In 2022’s fall camp, Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh made a surprising claim: true freshman Mason Graham was in solid contention to start in the interior defensive line.
Flash forward a year, and the Wolverines might have another high three star incoming freshman in a position to make a big contribution from the jump in Chicago product Trey Pierce III. Here’s the breakdown on his journey from Wisconsin Badger to Michigan Wolverine, and what his outlook is in 2023:
The story so far
Initially a hard and fast Wisconsin recruit, Pierce reopened his commitment following the turnover of the Badgers’ coaching staff at the end of last season. What followed was a dogfight between the Wolverines and the Illinois Fighting Illini, with Harbaugh taking the victory over Bret Bielema in mid-December.
Pierce finished the recruiting cycle as a consensus three-star in both 247 and On3’s composite rankings, while Rivals had him projected as a four-star. Regardless of stars, his film is impressive:
Outlook for 2023
Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 300 pounds, Pierce certainly has the size already to make an impact amongst the big boys of a power five trench battle. When scouting Pierce in his senior season, 247’s Allen Trieu was high on his potential:
Well built, put-together prospect who does not carry any unnecessary weight. Shows quickness off the snap. Plays with great motor. Shows solid agility for a big man but can still keep working in that area. Frame may not support lots more weight but there is still some room for growth. Can take on blocks and stop the run. Well coached and plays with good technique and pad level. Very college ready in terms of his build and approach. Very high floor type of prospect who looks like a safe bet to be a Power Five starter. Can play either nose or three-tech.
The question for Pierce then isn’t can he see the field this year, but will he see it outside of the early out-of-conference games. The Wolverines are certainly not lacking for talent amongst the interior defensive line between Kris Jenkins, Mason Graham, and Kenneth Grant, with rotational pieces in Rayshaun Benny and Cam Goode also in the offering. However, there’s no such thing as too much rotation in a position group like this one, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he plays just enough to burn the redshirt this year.