There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it will do so likely in empty stadiums with a conference-only schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.
Quinten Johnson, redshirt FR
247 Composite Ranking: 4 stars (S 27, Overall 316)
2019 Stats: n/a
There were not a ton of extra snaps to go around in the safety rotation last fall, but that could be a benefit to someone like Quinten Johnson who was able to sit out his first year and prepare to make an impact. With everyone shifting up the depth chart, the redshirt freshman will see his first game action in 2020 and could become a regular on defense.
Johnson is a pure athlete, putting up impressive SPARQ numbers in high school and possessing the raw attributes Michigan loves bringing into Don Brown’s system. He may not be game tested, but his body is ready to go at the collegiate level. With no clear backups at positions like strong safety, he looks like a great bet to see some playing time this fall.
Where will Johnson best be able to fit into the defense this season?
The logical place for Johnson would be strong safety, given his tenacity and explosiveness in attack. He has top speed and burst and the frame and power to hit hard. He can quickly close down open space and be the type of tackling machine required from the position. While the strong safety role at Michigan does not mean a ton of coverage, he should be able to hold his own against tight ends and has the speed to follow receivers around.
Prospects like Johnson are always going to hear the Viper pitch from the Wolverines during the recruiting process. He might not be a perfect match, but he does have the abilities required to play the spot, able to attack downhill and power through blockers. But given his coverage abilities and the composition of the roster, safety is the more likely option for him this year.
There are some areas where he will need to improve, including refining his technique and perfecting his coverage of shiftier slot players. After being on campus for a year, though, he should have some familiarity with the role and development should be expected from a player this young. Johnson is not ready to jump into a starting spot, but that should not be the ask of him in 2020.
Michigan has a slew of impressive young defenders, and Johnson is right up there with the best of them. He should see some rotational time this fall, and it would not be too surprising to see him take over the starting strong safety position once Brad Hawkins graduates. That would require some tangible progress put on display this season, but Johnson has the talent to do just that once he gets on the field.