We are going to do something a little different by doing a Michigan mailbag. I went to Twitter and asked for any Wolverines’ football, basketball, or any Michigan-related questions.
I’m hoping to do this more and more throughout the summer months and into the season. If you would like to participate and get your questions answered, follow me on Twitter and get the questions in when I call for them. My DM’s are always open as well if you would rather do it that way.
There are definitely plenty of talking points right now for Michigan. The Wolverines are killing it on the recruiting trail, the football team is looking to make a run at the whole thing this year, and the basketball team is, well, a work in progress.
Michigan has a rather easy nonconference schedule for the second-straight season. East Carolina went 8-5 last season and Bowling Green made it to a bowl game, so it’s arguably a little tougher, but the maize and blue shouldn’t have difficulties with any of them. Then in the fourth game, Michigan plays Rutgers at home, another game the Wolverines should be able to handle with ease — although early-season Rutgers is more difficult than late-season Rutgers.
My answer is pretty simple: dominate. Last year, Michigan outscored its nonconference schedule 166-17. If the Wolverines can do the same thing during the first three games and handle the Scarlet Knights in Week 4, then I think you should feel confident going into the heart of the schedule. The Wolverines offense returns most of their playmakers from last season and the defense should be just as good, if not better, than 2022. There shouldn’t be timing issues like we’ve seen before since J.J. McCarthy is entering his second year as a starter and has been healthy in spring ball. If the offense sputters against these lower-level teams or the defense struggles to hold them, then that’s not a good sign. But if Michigan dominates the line of scrimmage and points up plenty of points, then that’s a great sign.
I had a hard time choosing between the defensive line and the linebackers, but I look for the linebackers to take the biggest step forward.
The defense was pretty sound as a whole last season, so it’s not like me saying the linebackers mean that group was bad last year, because it wasn’t. Even with Nikhai Hill-Green moving on and going to Charlotte, I like this group a ton with the addition of Ernest Hausmann from Nebraska. As a freshman last season, Hausmann started seven games for the Huskers and made 54 tackles — he was one of the more productive freshman linebackers in the country.
Michigan of course returns Junior Colson who recorded a team-high 101 tackles, Michael Barrett is back for another year who was second on the team with 72 tackles. The Wolverines also return sophomore Jimmy Rolder who saw significant playing time as a freshman last year, and Michah Pollard looked good in the spring game.
It feels like the Wolverines are as talented and as deep as anyone in the Big Ten and as long as injuries don’t get in the way, I think people will be hyping the Wolverines’ linebackers up all season.
Taylor Tatum officially made it known he would be visiting Ann Arbor on June 23. Tatum will be joined by linebacker Aaron Chiles and edge defender Darien Mayo on that visit and Michigan appears to be trending for all three of them — huge visit weekend.
Switching to Brandon Baker, I’m not sure to be completely honest. I know Michigan has to take Baker if he wants to come to Ann Arbor, but the Wolverines already have five offensive linemen committed to them for 2024. I feel like a lot of it comes down to when is Baker’s timeline? Does he make a decision sooner than later, or does he take his recruitment out past the season and the Michigan class could be almost full, if not full by then. To finally answer your question, I would say 40% as of now. I think there is a chance, but I wouldn’t throw my fists down saying ‘he is coming to Michigan.’
I think Michigan has a better chance of landing Rayj Dennis at this moment. The Wolverines hosted him recently on an official visit and with Michigan losing Caleb Love, there is a spot wide open. Dennis would more than likely start right away and Michigan would have a good trio of Dug McDaniel, Dennis, and Jaelin Llewellyn to rotate at the ‘1’ and ‘2’.
If Olivier Nkamhoua ultimately decides to come back to college, I think Michigan is right in the mix. The Tennessee transfer didn’t receive a combine invite, so it’s hard to imagine him staying in the draft and there has been a connection between him and Michigan for some time. There was a report recently that said he was taking an official visit to West Virginia, so Nkamhoua is exploring his options, but he is exactly what Michigan needs. Someone that can play the ‘3’ or ‘4’. We all know Michigan struggled to get consistent minutes from the ‘4’ last year.
I love what I’ve seen from Alex Orji. From the spring game alone, he appears to have learned better mechanics of throwing the football and we all know he can run the ball. I hope Jim Harbaugh does some things with him this fall in his own little package, but I don’t think he would be the backup. I would say No. 2 is Jack Tuttle. Tuttle started during the spring game and he brings over a ton of experience from Indiana. Davis Warren would probably be 2B because I think he has more ability than Tuttle, but I think Harbaugh likes what Tuttle brings to the table.
The deepest has to be the offensive line. There are probably 10 guys that have a chance to start or could start on 90 other teams out there. It’s amazing the Wolverines didn’t lose players on the line to the transfer portal after landing La’Darius Henderson, Drake Nugent, and Myles Hinton via the portal. Michigan has a legit chance to win the Joe Moore Award for the third consecutive year.
I also want to bring up the running backs. Michigan has the best one-two punch in the country with Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. The staff loves CJ Stokes, Kalel Mullings, and true freshman Ben Hall appears to be a wrecking ball. The Wolverines have some real good running backs at their disposal and Michigan will get phenomenal production from that group this year.