The Michigan Wolverines’ secondary received more scrutiny than any other unit on the field in 2020. In part, this was because of Don Brown’s outdated and non-inventive schematics that put some of the defensive backs in difficult situations against some of the best wide receivers in the country that reside in the Big Ten. Now, Mike Macdonald takes over with the hopes from fans that improvement comes the unit. One player who hopes to capitalize on that is redshirt sophomore Quinten Johnson. Let’s take a look at how he got to Michigan and where he is at on the depth chart for 2021.
The story so far
As a borderline Top-300 recruit in the class of 2019, Johnson had pretty high expectations coming into Ann Arbor. He had a collegiate body for the safety position at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds already as a freshman, and some hoped that the composite four-star recruit could crack the rotation in the secondary early in his career.
Those hopes didn’t last long as Daxton Hill, the top safety in the class and a Top-15 player in the country, committed to the Wolverines at the same position. With only two safety spots on the field at a time, Johnson now was living in the phenom’s shadow. Johnson saw no playing time as a freshman and earned his redshirt status.
A year later, in the Wolverines’ 2021 class, three more highly touted safeties came to the University of Michigan including Jordan Morant, RJ Moten, and Makari Paige. Suddenly, the safety room became rather crowded with talent. He saw no playing time in year two except on special teams in two games. Meanwhile, Paige saw playing time in each of the six games in 2020 and some think that Moten and Morant may have passed Johnson on the depth chart as well as they both earned their redshirts as freshmen.
Outlook for 2021
On the In the Trenches Podcast, Harbaugh was asked by host Jon Jansen about the safety room. Here is what he said:
“Dax Hill and Brad Hawkins – other guys that lead by example, had extremely good springs. Young safeties really asserted themselves. RJ Moten and Jordan Morant and Caden Kolesar and Makari Paige are all ascending as well on that defensive side.”
Not mentioned: Quinten Johnson, which should be of concern for the now redshirt sophomore. That’s potentially six guys that can be seen above Johnson as we sit today and more potential safeties on the way.
Harbaugh said at Big Ten Media Days that Jalen Perry and George Johnson may also leap over to safety instead of corner. That only heaps on more competition for an already deep room. I don’t expect Johnson to see much action now, and he will more than likely be a depth player for the remainder of his time at Michigan.