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Josh Wallace’s path to Michigan, outlook for 2023

The defensive back transfer from UMass has an incredible opportunity in front of him.

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Massachusetts v Northwestern Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

He’s the most experienced cornerback on Michigan football’s extensive roster.

No, we’re not talking about former five-star Will Johnson. We’re not even talking about fifth-year Grad student Mike Sainristil. This piece is about none other than Bowie, Maryland’s very own, Josh Wallace.

The freshest of faces on Michigan’s DB depth chart, Wallace arrives in Ann Arbor with just over 2,000 snaps beneath his belt and a known pedigree for leadership.

The UMass transfer’s addition comes as possibly one of the biggest breaths of fresh air that this Michigan team could have received during the 2023 offseason, but what does Wallace’s entry into the defensive back fold really mean for the Wolverines?

The story so far

An Olney, Maryland, native, Josh Wallace attended DeMatha Catholic, where he played alongside former U-M center Olu Oluwatimi.

He then went on to become a multi-year captain at UMass, where he recorded 137 tackles, including seven for loss, three interceptions and 24 passes defended throughout his career.

It’s also at UMass where Wallace spent the 2022 season learning under the tutelage of former Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown.

During that same senior year, he accounted for 41 tackles, three for loss, two interceptions, eight pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Wallace would eventually go on to garner high interest from the likes of Michigan State, Iowa, Oklahoma, Penn State, and others following his entry into the transfer portal in April.

Outlook for 2023

For Wallace, a four-year experienced veteran who saw his first start at UMass back in 2019, there’s still plenty of work to do. When the time comes next week to take the field, all indications are that the graduate transfer will be lining up alongside Mike Sainristil and Will Johnson. Once that happens, the chemistry is what will make all the difference.

Building that bond appears to be a top priority for Wallace. The defensive back recently expanded upon his introduction to the team, as well as the bond that he’s building with veteran leader, Mike Sainristil:

“He was just my roommate in the hotel,” Wallace said, referring to Sainristil. “We were getting here at the same time, and since I’ve been here, we’ve just been going over plays together and just getting caught up. (He’s) really like my brother.”

This is music to the ears of Wolverine fans, who would love nothing more than to see the tendencies of the elder statesman rub off on the UMass transfer.

How quickly Wallace can acclimate himself to Michigan’s playbook will greatly determine how fast he ascends the ranks of the depth chart. Word out of camp is that Amorion Walker is dealing with the injury bug, and newcomer Jyaire Hill and junior Ja’Den McBurrows — albeit interesting options — are still far less experienced as well.

The remaining days before September 2nd will be critical for Wallace, as well as the defensive back race as a whole. When asked about the battle at the CB2 spot, Jesse Minter offered his insight:

“I see a lot of guys just working really hard,” Minter said. “We’re trying to use a method where it’s a different guy every day. Nobody has really taken it and ran with it.”

Regardless of how the Wolverines choose to deploy Wallace, expect there to be a healthy dose of mixed combinations from the defensive backfield as the team attempts to find its footing early in the season.

“Right now, it’s a whole host of guys that we’re playing.” Minter continued. “We’re trying to find the best combination of five DBs in a lot of our nickel-type stuff. We’ve tried a lot of different combinations. That could be a combination of multiple positions, corners, safeties, nickels, we’re trying to find our best five combination.”