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Rayshaun Benny’s journey to Michigan, 2021 outlook

A former Michigan State commit who flipped to Michigan is now vying for snaps during his freshman year in Ann Arbor.

Notre Dame v Michigan Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images

Michigan has a 6-foot-5, 275 pound freshman who will be vying for snaps in 2021 — Rayshaun Benny. The road to Ann Arbor was an interesting one for Benny, a player who 247Sports Allen Trieu already projects as a future NFL Draft pick.

The story so far

An Oak Park, Michigan native, Benny was a four-star prospect, No. 30 defensive lineman, No. 212 overall player, and No. 7 overall prospect in Michigan in the 2021 class. Benny played both offensive and defensive line in high school, but as his career progressed he developed into a bonafied d-line prospect. Benny put up some impressive numbers as a junior — 75 tackles, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles. His senior season had a bump in the road due to having knee surgery and missing five games, but Benny was still able to compile 32 tackles (11 for loss) and 5.5 sacks in just 5 games of action.

When Benny announced his top four list in October, Michigan made the cut along with Michigan State, Penn State, and Kentucky. However, Benny committed to Michigan State shortly after Sparty beat Michigan last season. Hope was not lost, though, as Benny did not sign with MSU during the early signing period.

Benny would ultimately make it official with Michigan, flipping from Michigan State on February 3.

Outlook moving forward

Michigan really needed depth along the defensive line, and they got it when they received Benny’s commitment on February 3. Michigan won’t be expecting Benny to start right out of the gate, but it’s a positive to have a player of his stature and size behind the likes of Chris Hinton, Donovan Jeter, and Mazi Smith on the depth chart.

Benny will see the field in 2021, but how often is up in the air. What is evident based upon his high school production is Benny has a good burst off the ball and has the ability to get to the quarterback — something that hasn’t always been commonplace for Michigan at defensive tackle of late. Still, growing pains are to be expected from a freshman who played on both sides of the ball in high school. Now Benny has the time to focus on one position, one scheme, one craft, instead of two.

If there’s a creative way or useful way to get Benny involved during his freshman season, if there’s a chance he can produce at a higher clip than some of the veterans at defensive tackle, new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald won’t hesitate to dish out more snaps to Benny.