Offensive lineman Josh Priebe never expected to transfer from Northwestern. He was a three-year starter and team captain in 2023, but in this day and age, the transfer portal is a useful tool for players seeking a new opportunity.
With uncertainty surrounding his position coach at Northwestern, among other factors, Priebe decided to enter the portal and spend his final year of college eligibility elsewhere.
That’s when the Michigan Wolverines came into the picture. Priebe committed to Michigan last month and is entering the program at its highest point under Jim Harbaugh, coming off a 15-0 season capped off with a win in the National Championship.
With an opportunity to come back to his home state, develop under offensive line coach Sherrone Moore and strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert, and play at the highest level of college football in the Big Ten, transferring to Michigan was an all too easy choice.
“Michigan’s going to provide the absolute best training in terms of development with coach Herb and everything, so it was kind of a no-brainer from that aspect,” Priebe said. “And then with where the team and program is at — I wanted to be a part of the best program in the country and have every available resource for my last year of college football.”
Some players who enter the portal don’t necessarily know where they are going to wind up next, but that wasn’t the case for Priebe.
“I had a pretty good idea — even before I went in the portal — that I would definitely want to target Michigan and be able to gauge their interest right away,” Priebe said. “I knew they were going to have guys leaving at the guard positions and I knew it could be potentially a good opportunity for me. I talked to quite a few other schools — I really was only interested in Big Ten and SEC schools just because those are the two most competitive conferences, especially now with all the realignment stuff. So I talked to quite a few other schools in both conferences, but after I took my visit here, that kind of solidified where my mind was at.”
Priebe visited for one of Michigan’s practices leading up to the Rose Bowl in late December. He didn’t necessarily do much on the visit, but putting faces and personalities to voices over the phone helped set his decision in stone.
“Over the phone, you can only do so much, and they were so busy with getting ready for the Rose Bowl that I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to get on the phone with them and chat, and you can only feel things out so well over the phone,” Priebe said. “I just came up for the day and was able to sit down with coach Harbaugh, go out to dinner with coach Moore and a couple other people, and just have actual conversations about ball — where they see me fitting in, how they view me, all these different things, how they see me being able to develop and get better, and to kind of have a plan and vision for all that.
“You do know when the feeling is right, and you do know when things feel right from both sides, and that’s the feeling I got when I came up for that day.”
The coaches see Priebe fitting in best along the interior offensive line. He played most of his career on the inside at Northwestern — including all 12 of his starts in 2023 at left guard — and was an All-Big Ten Third-Team player this season. It only makes sense for the Wolverines to put him where he will play his best.
That said, Priebe did play some tackle in Evanston, so he can do that at Michigan if needed. He also mentioned he is excited to “learn some skills at center,” as Moore cross-trains all his offensive linemen to play up and down the line. But at the end of the day, left or right guard is where Michigan fans can expect to see him line up next fall.
“I wouldn’t say (position) matters that much,” Priebe said. “I’d say I’m more comfortable at left guard (opposed to right guard) just because that’s where I’ve been the past three years starting at Northwestern. I have a lot of playing experience there — it takes a little bit to get used to flipping sides, but it’s nothing that is really that crazy.”
Priebe is hitting the ground running in Ann Arbor. He’s already on campus, taking classes and getting to know his teammates before the offseason training regimen begins. In the meantime, before winter conditioning and spring ball begins, he is grateful to have a chance to play in his home state and be a part of something great.
“It’s definitely something I don’t take lightly,” Priebe said. “Being from the state of Michigan and understanding how much pride people take in the program. It’s an opportunity most people could never dream of or imagine getting, so I’m super thankful I have an opportunity to play here and be a part of the program. (I’m) just looking forward to hopefully earning people’s respect and building a good reputation during my time here as a player.”
To end...a few fun facts about Priebe:
- Favorite food: Grilled steak (medium rare)
“You can’t beat a good steak. I’ve kinda gotten into grilling and bought a little charcoal grill this past offseason.”
- Favorite movies: Priebe enjoys action movies the most — Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sylvester Stallone — as well as movies directed by Christopher Nolan. “Huge movie guy.” His favorite sports movie is Rocky.
- Hobbies: Hang out with teammates/other offensive linemen, grilling, fishing.
Sounds like Priebe is going to fit in just fine.