When Michigan picked up a two-time first-team all-state quarterback from Georgia back in 2018, his highlights turned heads. Michael Barrett was an all around impressive athlete, that was clear, but how he would be utilized in Ann Arbor evolved from his first day on campus to where things presently stand.
The story so far
Barrett was a three-star recruit out of Lowndes, Georgia who played quarterback and linebacker (sophomore season). Barrett passed for 4,640 yards and 45 touchdowns during his high school career, and rushed for 2,647 yards and 38 touchdowns. Barrett
Barrett held offers from schools such as LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, and Georgia Tech. The only schools Barrett officially visited were Michigan and Georgia Tech, with Barrett committing to U-M in January of 2018.
Michigan initially planned to use Barrett at running back, with head coach Jim Harbaugh envisioning Barrett playing slot receiver along with his RB duties to further showcase his versatility. During Barrett’s freshman season he went through a few defensive drills and former defensive coordinator Don Brown told Barrett he had the ability to play linebacker, and a position switch ensued.
In 2019, Barrett started to make a name for himself on the team, becoming a standout player on special teams. Barrett converted two fake punts, one being a 25-yard pass, the other a 14-yard run. Barrett started to show he could tackle, and is an all around athlete to be utilized in creative ways.
While 2019 represented Barrett starting to get his sea legs, 2020 was a year where he took the leap from newcomer to veteran after learning under LB Khaleke Hudson his first two years. During his first career start at the VIPER position, Barrett had seven tackles (1.5 for loss), a sack, and a forced fumble. While it was a bad year for Michigan and their defense in 2020, Barrett was one of its brighter spots, finishing the season with 44 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble.
Michael Barrett is making an impact early in his first start pic.twitter.com/MeSwicBzF0— Erik Schlitt (@erikschlitt) October 25, 2020
Outlook moving forward
There’s a new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who comes to Michigan after serving as linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens. While Macdonald’s scheme, personality, or coaching methodology won’t be like that of Don Brown, the basic premise of how Barrett was used in 2020 will remain. Barrett has the ability to do a variety of things on defense, and Macdonald will put Barrett in various spots, various packages. Barrett will likely be asked to drop into slot coverage at times, he’ll get his shots at blitzing the quarterback, he’ll have to be an asset stopping the run. The 6-foot, 227 pound Barrett is fast, physical, and hits really hard, now it’s all about improving his techniques and getting better at pass rushing, run stop, and in pass coverage. There’s a realistic chance Barrett could have a breakout season in 2021.