Michigan Football: Ahead of Spring Game
Coming off another successful season, Michigan football amps things back up as they head into Saturday’s Spring Game. Some are gone. But many return for a team that is expected to head right back to the College Football Playoff. The hunger is there. We take a look at what the depth chart might look like heading into the Spring Game.
Depth Chart: By Position
1st team: JJ McCarthy
Backup: Jack Tuttle
Reserve: Davis Warren
Out: Cade McNamara, Alan Bowman
Unlike heading into last season, we know who the guy is going to be starting at the helm in week one for the Wolverines. McCarthy is another year experienced and has looked even better during Spring ball. Remember, this time last year he was dealing with a nagging shoulder injury. He grew in a big way last season, and I only expect more of that this season from the now Junior.
Tuttle comes in with experience from Indiana—a perfect fit and a solid backup.
Warren had the Spring game buzz last season. Now a year more experience, you couldn’t have a more solid option at that spot.
1st team: Blake Corum
Backup: Donovan Edwards
Reserve: Kalel Mullings
You can’t deny how big it is to have Blake Corum back in Ann Arbor. This is the same guy who very well might have been the Heisman front-runner barring the injury. Now he’s not quite all the way back, but he’s already progressing and getting it done in the weight room. Expect another big year from number two.
You could very well go 1A and 1B. We might see carries split early on in the season, and you might even see Edwards carry more of the load early on. And that’s a good problem to have. Edwards becomes even scarier with more touches, and with a healthy hand, we should see him more in the passing game again.
Mullings appears to be the guy in that third spot. We saw more work from him late in the season after the Corum injury. Now solely focusing on the running back spot could make him that legit power threat in the run game.
WRx: Cornelius Johnson
WRz: Roman Wilson
Slot: AJ Henning
Backups: Darrius Clemons, Tyler Morris, Fredrick Moore
Out: Ronnie Bell, Andrel Anthony
There’s no doubt it’s never easy to replace a guy like Ronnie Bell. But with Johnson returning, that greatly boosts the receiving corps. When Johnson is on, he’s a game-changer.
A guy that could be a big breakout candidate is Roman Wilson. He has shown his ability to take the top off the defense, and now with a more experienced McCarthy, don’t expect to see those long-ball troubles that plagued Michigan at times last season.
We didn’t see a ton from Henning last season, but he continues to push forward. Getting him more involved this season will only boost the offense.
Think back to this time last season when Darrius Clemons had people talking during the 2022 Spring Game. We didn’t see a lot from Clemons throughout, but it would be a shock not to in 2023.
Another young receiver who got off to a slow start due to injuries was Tyler Morris. He is extremely reliable and saw a boost in playtime time late last season. Morris is another talented young receiver that should have a solid year for the Wolverines.
Starter: AJ Barner
Backup: Colston Loveland
Reserves: Matthew Hibner, Max Bredeson, Marlin Klein, Deakon Tonielli, Zach Marshall
Out: Erick All, Joel Honigford, Luke Schoonmaker, Louis Hansen
You lose a lot at the tight end position, but the transfer of AJ Barner is a welcome addition to what will be another loaded tight end room. Barner showed what he could do at Indiana. He should very well see an uptick in production in Ann Arbor.
Once again, you could go 1A and 1B here with Barner and Loveland. Loveland has shown what he can do already and is now expected to be a big part of the offense to start 2023.
With the rest of the room, take your pick. There’s a lot of talent there despite the team’s youth, and as we’ve seen in Ann Arbor, you will find playing time at the tight end position if you’re doing your job.
1st Team: LaDarius Henderson
Backup: Jeffrey Persi
Reserve: Tristan Bounds
Out: Ryan Hayes
There’s no doubt Ryan Hayes will be a tough loss. But enter portal pickup Henderson, and you won’t skip a beat at left tackle. Henderson was very solid at Arizona State and now joins the reigning two-time Joe Moore Award winnings on yet another stacked offensive line.
1st Team: Trevor Keegan
Backup: Giovanni El-Hadi
Reserve: Reece Atteberry
Another big return to Ann Arbor in Keegan. One of the offensive line leaders should be reliable again this season.
1st Team: Drake Nugent
Backup: Raheem Anderson
Reserve: Greg Crippen
Out: Olu Oluwatimi
Another tough guy that will need to be replaced is Oluwatimi, who had a big season in his only year donning the maize and blue. Enter Drake Nugent, another big experienced transfer portal pickup. These guys will need the time to gel, but you have to be excited at the state of the offensive line again this season. Nugent will also allow Anderson to become more polished.
1st Team: Zak Zinter
Backup: Karsen Barnhart
Reserve: Andrew Gentry
Zinter coming back sets the tone even more for the guys up front. For an offensive line that has been dominant the past two seasons, you could expect that again in 2023, with Zinter spearheading that.
Barnhart has shown he’ll get some playing time and has not been a drop-off with his time.
1st Team: Trente Jones
Backup: Karsen Barnhart
Reserve: Myles Hinton
This one could go either way and become very interchangeable throughout the year. Jones was solid when healthy, but Barnhart has shown that if relied upon, he doesn’t make the offensive line skip a beat. The addition of Hinter only makes this unit that more deep.
NT: Mason Graham
3T: Rayshaun Benny
5T: Kris Jenkins
Backups: NT Kenneth Grant, 3T Cam Goode, 5T Ike Iwunnah
Graham was one of the welcome signs last season. Now with a year under his belt, you should expect big things from the Sophomore.
Benny is a guy that could be one of the breakout candidates for the Wolverines this year. Seeing limited time last season, he’s a year older, and they’ll need him by way of depth on the defensive line.
Kris Jenkins has looked the part already in Spring ball, and he might have a big year on the defensive line. He’ll play an even bigger role this season.
We didn’t see a ton of Grant last season, but he’ll make the depth in this position big, and he’s a guy that could make a significant impact.
DE Starter: Derrick Moore
EDGE Starter: Jaylen Harrall
Backups: Braiden McGregor, Josaiah Stewart
There’s no doubt that in his Freshman season Derrick Moore showed the type of player that he can be. He should see an even bigger role this year, and as long as the Sophomore stays hungry, it will be a welcome sign for the Wolverines.
Harrall is another one to watch, and he’ll also have big shoes to fill. He, too, has shown that he can cause some disruption for opposing offenses.
McGregor could be the wild card here. Uber-talented, he could be the next guy in line to take over the defensive line. Being healthy heading into the season would be big.
Another transfer portal addition, Stewart could prove to be a guy who can make some noise.
MIKE Starter: Junior Colson
WILL Starter: Ernest Hausmann
SAM Starter: Mike Barrett
Backups: Jimmy Rolder, Nikhai Hill-Green, Micah Pollard
Out: Deuce Spurlock
You can’t start with a better combo in the linebacking corps than Junior Colson and Michael Barrett. They both can get it done in every facet as shown over the last couple of seasons.
Insert Ernest Hausmann, a young player who was fantastic for Nebraska last season. He can match the athletic ability of Colson and Barrett. He will get his share of snaps.
Starters: Will Johnson, Amorion Walker, Mike Sainristil
Backups: Jaden McBurrows, German Green, Zeke Berry
Out: DJ Turner, Gemon Green
Will Johnson showed what he could do last season. The five-star did not disappoint. You won’t find many freshmen that can come in and play like they’ve been around for four years. That’s exactly what Johnson did.
You can’t put a price on guys that just have it, and one of those guys is Mike Sainristil. Sainristil was vital to the Wolverines last season as a leader on and off the field. Expect another rock-solid season from the veteran.
The biggest surprise to this point might be the play of Amorion Walker. He has been off to a great start in Spring ball, and head coach Jim Harbaugh has gone on record stating that he sees Walker as the guy in that other spot. Long, athletic and quick, the tandem of Walker, Johnson and Sainristil could give offenses fits.
There’s also some solid depth here to the point where if other guys get game action, there shouldn’t be much of a drop-off in the secondary.
Starter: Makari Paige
Backup: RJ Moten
Paige took a big step last year and might be viewed as having the edge as of now, but Moten is also a guy that might start for most other teams—another good problem to have for Michigan.
Free Safety: Rod Moore
Backup: Keon Sabb
Moore is one of the best safeties in the country, as he can get it done in both the run and pass game. Expect it to be a big year for the Junior.
Sophomore Keon Sabb didn’t see the field much last season, but he is too talented to keep off the field for much longer. Expect Sabb to be a viable backup this season; if needed, he’ll be up to task at the free safety spot.
Starter: Tommy Doman
Backup: Adam Samaha
Starter: Tommy Doman
Backup: Charlie Mentzer
Doman could very well handle both the kicking and punting duties. If it’s close, however, expect talented kicker Adam Samaha to handle that role.