Roman Wilson. Blake Corum. Makari Paige.
These are the three guys who contributed major minutes to the Michigan football program in 2020, their first year in college. And every season, fans get to see more and more new players begin to make a name for themselves.
With a couple transfer players and a highly-ranked incoming freshman class, the Wolverines are not short on new talent coming to Ann Arbor. Get ready to learn some new names, as these guys are in line for a lot of playing time this season. And if they aren’t in line to receive playing time right away, it likely won’t be long before they begin to push for it.
In no particular order, here is my list of the five most important new players on the Michigan football roster in 2021.
J.J. McCarthy, QB
This is an obvious choice. Cade McNamara has locked down the starting quarterback job, but there isn’t much depth behind him. Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman looks to be third or fourth on the depth chart, and Dan Villari is going to be used as a Taysom Hill type of player in Michigan’s offense.
McCarthy is pushing for that No. 1 job as a true freshman, so if something were to happen to McNamara, he would be next in line for playing time. McCarthy is the quarterback of the future and arguably the most important player on Michigan’s entire roster.
Junior Colson, LB
Much like quarterback, the depth at the linebacker position is not what it once was a couple seasons ago. Colson, a true freshman from Tennessee and a former top 100 overall prospect, could very well see the playing field quicker than most at his position. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, his body is already college-ready. He’s also a plus athlete, with the ability to stop the run and cover receivers as well. He has a chance to be a very good player under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.
Daylen Baldwin, WR
With Giles Jackson’s transfer and the Xavier Worthy saga coming to an end, wide receiver became a bit more thin this offseason than what it should have. But any concerns were put to rest when Baldwin announced his transfer from Jackson State to Michigan.
The Michigan native could have went to Ohio State, his favorite team growing up, but he knew the quickest path to playing time was in Ann Arbor. He should be in line for a lot of playing time this season. I wouldn’t be shocked if he wound up being one of the top wide outs on the team in 2021.
Jordan Whittley, DT
Ahh, defensive tackle. What would any Michigan football list this offseason be without bringing up the defensive tackle position?
I don’t need to beat a dead horse; we all know it’s one of the team’s major weaknesses. But Whittley — a 6-foot-1, 358-pound transfer from Oregon State — should be a decent bridge player as the defensive tackles in the 2021 class prepare for the rigors of the Big Ten. This will be his lone season in Ann Arbor, so hopefully he is able to make the most of it, especially given the wild journey he has had in college up to this point.
Donovan Edwards, RB
A top 50 player and one of the top talents in the state of Michigan, Edwards was arguably Michigan’s top overall player on its board in the 2021 class. His elite combination of speed and the ability to catch the football will instantly give him a role in Michigan’s offense, regardless of how good Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum are. Expect him to get some snaps right off the bat as he works behind the two other running backs.