One of the strongest units for the Michigan Wolverines’ defense this upcoming season appears to be along the defensive edge. Aidan Hutchinson is the leader of not just the defensive ends, but the entire defense.
But another defensive end who looks to be in line for a big role in 2021 is redshirt junior Taylor Upshaw. Three seasons into his career in Ann Arbor and Upshaw has just begun to make an impact. Thanks to a very strong end to the 2020 season and his continued ascension on the depth chart, his impact for the Wolverines this upcoming season seems likely to be a vital one.
The story so far
Upshaw, a three-star prospect in the 2018 class, grew up in the state of Florida and played at Braden River High School. Despite his lower ranking, the son of former NFL defensive lineman Regan Upshaw held quality offers from Michigan, Florida, Clemson, Oregon, Oklahoma and plenty of other Power 5 programs.
He committed to Florida in June 2017, but his offer from Don Brown and Greg Mattison in Oct. 2017 made him reconsider things. He officially flipped from Florida to Michigan a month after receiving his offer. He officially visited Ann Arbor the day after that flip and was an early enrollee for the Wolverines.
After a redshirt season where he saw no action in 2018, he performed in six games during the 2019 season. He compiled just a couple tackles that year, but really turned it up last season during the shortened 2020 season. Playing in all six games in 2020, Upshaw racked up 17 tackles, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, one sack and a forced fumble. The most impressive part of his year was the fact that most of those stats, including 14 of his 17 tackles, came in the final three games of the season against Wisconsin, Rutgers and Penn State.
Outlook for 2021
Heading into the 2021 season, Upshaw will likely be one of the players who sees the field early and often for the Wolverines. He has a legitimate chance to build off the way he ended his 2020 season and make himself a mainstay along the edge.
Upshaw was brought in as a prospect who wasn’t supposed to play right away, but someone who would grow and develop into the type of player he is now. The sky is the limit for him now that he has transformed his body and developed on the field. He is a player I believe can have a very productive redshirt junior season for Michigan.