Michigan had two of the best edge-rushers in college football last season, and now both of them (Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo) are in the NFL. It’ll be hard to replace their production, but Jaylen Harrell is one of the players Michigan will be relying on.
The story so far
Harrell was a 2020 four-star prospect out of Tampa, Florida and was a candidate for the High School Butkus Award in 2019. During Harrell’s junior and senior years, he had a penchant for getting into the backfield with 31 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Harrell was a special teams contributor during the shortened 2020 season, but it was last season where his strength and quickness were on display.
Harrell played in all 14 games last season, totaling 15 tackles (2.5 for loss). Harrell made notable plays in the backfield against Ohio State and in the Big Ten Championship game versus Iowa that showed he tackles with force.
Jaylen Harrell is gonna wreck dudes next year pic.twitter.com/nboD8IVRkd— Trevor Woods (@WoodsFootball) January 18, 2022
Jaylen Harrell taking Spencer Petras for a ride pic.twitter.com/q4RYiP2NKq— Patrick Barron (@BlueBarronPhoto) December 6, 2021
Outlook moving forward
Harrell will be a rotational piece as an edge rusher and will receive a lot of snaps in 2022. However, there’s also Mike Morris, Taylor Upshaw, and others who will receive lots of playing time.
“It’s going to be a little bit different because Mike Morris and Taylor Upshaw, they’re gonna play different,” defensive line coach Mike Elston said this spring. “You hope the production is there, we got young guys coming on like Braiden McGregor and Jaylen Harrell. It’s a great room, but it’s going to be different,” Elston said. “For them to go out there and say, ‘I got to play like Aidan and play like Ojabo.’ They’ve got to be their own type of player that they’re going to be.”
Harrell is fast along the edge, and at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds he plays with a lot of physicality against offensive tackles and tight ends. Harrell has a shot to be a real productive player.