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Zeke Berry’s path to Michigan, outlook for 2023

Could the defensive back see more playing time in 2023?

Michigan Spring Football Game Photo by Jaime Crawford/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines have excelled at developing secondary talent in the Jim Harbaugh era. There are quite a few young players waiting in the wings for their moment to take over as a starter behind some of the veterans in the room.

At the top of that list is Zeke Barry, a redshirt freshman who was a former top-100 recruit. With the rotational effort Jesse Minter instills in all areas of his defense, there is a good chance we see Berry a bit more in 2023.

The story so far

Berry had an offer from just about every significant school out west. At one point, he was even committed to Arizona. But he spurned other schools like Oregon, Washington, USC, UCLA, Tennessee and more to attend Michigan after an official visit late in the 2022 cycle.

The ratings for him varied as a four-star recruit. 247sports had him as the No. 53 overall player, but ESPN had him at No. 283 and On3 ranked him at No. 132. The difficulty in his rating is because no one knew where he would play. Some saw him staying at safety where he is a tad undersized at just 5-foot-11. Others saw him as a smaller corner or a nickel.

When he got to Ann Arbor, playing time was not abundant as a true freshman. He debuted in the blowout win over UConn, recording two tackles. Then, he saw some special teams snaps later in the season against Nebraska, but he maintained his redshirt status appearing in just those two contests.

Outlook for 2023

More than likely, Berry will be in the rotation a bit more this season. He’ll compete for playing time with Quentin Johnson, Keon Sabb, Caden Kolesar and others. I’d imagine most of it will come from nickel, especially if Sainristil sees some playing time on the outside.

Both Minter and defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale have spoken in length about finding the best five or six guys in the secondary and being able to rotate all of them. The locks are Will Johnson, Sainristil, Makari Paige and Rod Moore. So there is some wiggle room there for quite a few guys to see snaps, especially in the early season.

Berry will probably find himself somewhere in the two deep in 2023, and likely compete for a starting spot next year.