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Who stays, who goes on Michigan’s offense this offseason

Are J.J. McCarthy and Roman Wilson a package deal?

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

Roster construction is underway for the Michigan Wolverines for the 2024 campaign despite the current season not even being completed. Jim Harbaugh and his staff are already attacking the transfer portal with their names linked to several of the top players on the market.

This program may already understand where certain guys lean toward their NFL futures or returning to Ann Arbor for one more season. With a National Championship on the line this year, I think it could sway several players' opinions whether they win it all or fall short. The impending NCAA investigation on the sign-stealing scandal and what that means for Coach Harbaugh could also play a role.

With much to sort out, here is who I think stays at Michigan next season, and who is off to the portal or NFL Draft once this run concludes.

Quarterback:

  • Off to NFL: J.J. McCarthy
  • Graduating: Jack Tuttle
  • Returning: Alex Orji, Jayden Denegal, Davis Warren

This one may be closer than a lot of folks are anticipating, but I think J.J. McCarthy will decide to head to the NFL Draft in what is a deep year for quarterbacks. ESPN recently listed McCarthy as one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy next season, which makes me think that someone knows something that we don’t. But I just can’t see him sticking around with a roster that is losing some key players.

He’ll likely land somewhere in the top 3-5 at the position and find himself as a starter in the back half of the 2024 campaign. McCarthy loves Michigan, but there would be no better sendoff than winning it all and being a legend in Ann Arbor forever.

I also think Alex Orji has a chance to be the starting quarterback in 2024. He’s already getting snaps this season in designed runs and the teammates and coaches absolutely rave about his athleticism. Watch for him and true freshman Jadyn Davis to compete for the starting gig next year if they don’t bring in a transfer from the portal.

Running Back:

  • Off to NFL: Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards
  • Returning: Kalel Mullings, Tavierre Dunlap, Ben Hall, Cole Cabana
  • Transfer Portal: CJ Stokes

After years of dominating the backfield, it seems Corum and Edwards will be looking to play at the next level come fall of 2024. Many are hopeful Edwards will return for his senior season, but he’s said time and again that he is ready for greatness at the highest level.

In August, he compared himself to Barry Sanders and Walter Payton. I doubt that he’s seriously considering returning. To be honest, I think many at the next level will love that he’s shown elite traits in flashes but doesn’t have the mileage of many talents like him at the college level. He’s going to be a favorite come draft season.

CJ Stokes announced he is entering the transfer portal earlier this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tavierre Dunlap did as well if he thinks he can compete for a starting role elsewhere in the country.

There is a lot to like about the guys left like Hall, Cabana, and Mullings. Added depth from Mr. Ohio Jordan Marshall leaves a really bright future in the room.

Wide Receiver:

  • Off to NFL: Roman Wilson, Cornelius Johnson
  • Returning: Semaj Morgan, Frederick Moore, Tyler Morris, Peyton O’Leary, Cristian Dixon, Darrius Clemons, Peyton O’Leary, Eamonn Dennis, Kendrick Bell

I see Roman Wilson and J.J. McCarthy as a package deal. If McCarthy returns for his senior season, that could mean a handful of guys follow suit for a chance at another championship. These two have as tight of a connection as any QB-WR duo in the country. But I don’t see McCarthy staying, so I can’t image Wilson will either.

This is a room to watch out for in the transfer portal both to and from Michigan. Morgan, Moore, and Morris hopped a bunch of upperclassmen this season in terms of playing time. Quite a few stand out as guys that probably deserve a chance to play somewhere. Someone will have to make up for the 1,229 yards left behind by Wilson and Johnson, and it won’t be an easy task with likely a new quarterback behind center.

Offensive Line:

  • Off to NFL: LaDarius Henderson, Trevor Keegan, Drake Nugent, Zak Zinter
  • Returning: Myles Hinton, Karsen Barnhart, Trente Jones, Jeffrey Persi, Andrew Gentry, Amir Herring, Greg Crippen, Raheem Anderson, Giovanni El-Hadi, Dominick Guidice, Nathan Efobi, Tristan Bounds, Evan Link

The outstanding careers of Zak Zinter and Trevor Keegan will be over after this season. Even with Zinter’s injury, both should get really strong looks as early-middle draft picks along with Drak Nugent. There will also be spots on NFL rosters somewhere for Henderson, Barnhart and Jones whether it is back of the roster or on practice squads.

Myles Hinton was the starter at left tackle to start the season and I imagine that he’ll be called upon to be there in 2024 as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Karsen Barnhart return for his sixth season and maybe compete on the interior to show off what he can do on the inside for the next level. Jones would be in a great spot to finally start at right tackle where it feels like he has been battling for the role for the last four years.

El-Hadi, Crippen, Anderson, Gentry, and Persi will all compete for starting roles too. This line should be as deep as ever if everyone sticks around again.

Tight End:

Returning: Colston Loveland, AJ Barner, Max Bredeson, Marlin Klein, Matthew Hibner, Zack Marshall, Deakon Tonielli

It’s rare, but as of right now, it would appear that every tight end on the roster could return. Loveland and Barner will likely be the best tight end duo in college football next season, and Bredeson has shown immense value in his h-back, tight end role.

I was surprised we didn’t see Hibner much this season. He played eight games at tight end in 2022 but has rarely seen action outside of special teams snaps in 2023. As he graduates this season, he could be a name to watch among others in this deep unit in the transfer portal.