ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan’s secondary has been a pleasant surprise thus far in 2022, but there’s still a lot of potential biding its time, waiting its turn.
The Wolverines brought in a stellar defensive back class in 2022, and while we’ve seen cornerback Will Johnson make an early impact, unsurprising for a five-star, it may be a while yet before we get to see some of the other talented players in the secondary.
Keon Sabb was once a five-star who was committed to Clemson. His star-ranking fell before he flipped to Michigan just before signing day last year, but he has that type of potential. Kody Jones was a four-star from Tennessee, a good get, considering SEC schools were working to flip him throughout his process. Myles Pollard was just a three-star, also from Tennessee, but he had offers from nearly every powerhouse school in the country, including the top schools in the SEC. And Zeke Berry committed the day before the Big Ten Championship game, and has an extremely high ceiling.
We’ve seen each of these players late in the first three games, but not enough to really get a taste of their capability. Safeties coach Jay Harbaugh shared what he’s seen from these players as they work through their development. There’s still some work to go before they’re viable, but Harbaugh is pleased with where each of them are at this juncture.
“Those guys are doing a great job,” Harbaugh said. “Guys like Keon and Zeke, and Myles and Kody, they’re doing phenomenal and growing and getting better. And just really getting comfortable with the schemes, understanding the calls, the adjustments, being able to line up quickly and use their tools in terms of what adjustments they should be playing. So those guys are doing a really good job and taking a real pride and their growth from Monday to Thursday, even if they’re not really getting as much action during the games. And when you keep stacking weeks like that, it’s pretty, pretty crazy how much better you can get by the middle of your freshman year, the end of your freshman year, etc. So really pleased with them.”
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Berry is particularly intriguing. The former four-star from California was rated the No. 53 player in the country according to the 247Sports Composite, has a big body, yet was solid in coverage in his high school years. A track runner at the previous level, he possesses a lot of qualities that you want in a safety, and Harbaugh is excited to see how he continues to evolve his game.
“Zeke is a really instinctive, natural football player,” Harbaugh said. “When he is confused about something, he tends to have a very good reaction in terms of finding the ball running, taking great angles, hitting and all that stuff. He has a great feel for man coverage as well. There’s a lot to like about him. And as he continues to understand the defense you just see him getting better and better.
“So I think when it’s his time and when he’s ready to go or called upon, I think you’re gonna see a guy who’s kind of a do-it-all safety that can cover really well in man, can be a good blitzer, good tackler. And I think he would be a really great special teams player as well.”
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