Jim Harbaugh provided some much-needed clarity to some of the competitions for several deep position groups in the 2023 Michigan Wolverines roster. He remained vague about some off-field developments, including an ongoing NCAA investigation into comments he made about potential recruiting violations.
There are a lot of new faces this year, but some things never seem to change. This includes Harbaugh’s “enthusiasm unknown to mankind” energy, which was on full display during Tuesday’s press conference.
Here’s everything Harbaugh told media members during his half-hour availability.
- “I mean, really 10 deep right now,” Harbaugh said talking about the depth at offensive line. He named Jeff Persi, Giovanni El-Hadi, Greg Crippen, Reece Atteberry and Andrew Gentry as linemen who are making big strides behind the clear frontrunners for starting spots.
- “I would even say as good as the offensive line has been that the defense in the defensive line probably got the better of it. The 51 percent I would send that way,” commenting on how the offensive line looks going up against the defensive line in practice. He said veteran defensive tackle Cam Goode is “really asserting himself.”
- TJ Guy has really asserted himself as a fifth player in the edge rusher rotation. Harbaugh said the same about Jaydon Hood at the linebacker spot behind Junior Colson, Mike Barrett and Ernest Hausman.
- “Expect him to be really proficient in coverage, but he’s somebody that can go get the quarterback and set the edge,” Harbaugh said about Jaylen Harrell as one of the top edge rushers in the unit.
- With the departure of A.J. Henning to the transfer portal, Harbaugh named Mike Sainristil, Kalil Mullings and Donovan Edwards as leaders in the return game.
- “He might be, got a chance to be maybe one of the greatest kick returners of all time.” Any guesses as to who this quote was about? If you said quarterback Alex Orji, you can have my job. Harbaugh unveiled what he called a secret plan to have him returning kicks on the condition they can improve their blocking on special teams.
- “I really don’t have any thoughts to share,” Harbaugh responded when asked about the impact of Oregon and Washington joining the Big Ten.
- Harbaugh said he did not have any comment about the ongoing NCAA investigation into him and the program.
- “I definitely think you’re gonna see the Michigan Method in play at the offensive tackle.” Harbaugh finally has a name for the way he conducted Michigan’s quarterback battle last season, and says we’ll see the offensive tackle position determined in the same way. The Michigan Method.
- “I mean, he could play any position. He could play left, he could play right, he could play guard and he could even play center.” Harbaugh commented on Karsen Barnhart’s versatility, dubbing him the top performer from fall camp so far on the offensive line.
- “Vibrant.” That might be Harbaugh’s new favorite word. It’s how he describes the environment around the team right now.
- “The Michigan Method,” is how Harbaugh sees depth charts at offensive tackle, center, cornerback and edge being decided, much like how last year’s starting quarterback job was determined. “How do you know who the best player is? They play the best.”
- “The poster person for enthusiasm unknown to mankind for the 2023 year is Kris Jenkins. I made a nice little sticker. EUTM.” Move over Mr. Squarepants, because Jenkins is really the one saying “I’m ready.” Harbaugh is not only recognizing Jenkins’ mental strength, but also the new helmet sticker that goes along with it.
- Harbaugh took a business-as-usual approach after being ranked second by the AP.
- “It would be a small piece,” Harbaugh said about how the “Georgia period” of practice fits in with their overall approach to the season.
- “We came into fall camp with Roman, Cornelius Johnson and Tyler Morris being the top three,” Harbaugh said, adding some more certainty about who is most likely to fill out that third wideout position.
- Cameron Brandt, Enow Etta and Trey Pierce all earned recognition from Harbaugh for their impact as freshmen bolstering the defensive line.
- Harbaugh named Mike Sainristil, Will Johnson, Josh Wallace and Keshaun Harris as the top four cornerbacks to start the year. He said Amorion Walker is dealing with an injury and should be back in 4-5 days.
I have to admit, I’m pretty excited to see how Orji will do returning kicks after seeing how his offseason conditioning went. Do you think lining up a quarterback as a kick returner will pay dividends? Do you think Harbaugh has the depth charts headed in the right direction? Let me know in the comments.