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Mike Sainristil set to start on defense, still play offense in 2022

Harbaugh joined Jon Jansen’s podcast and discussed it in depth.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Ohio State at Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mike Sainristil finished this past season with 21 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns. He also chipped in a seven-yard rush and some crucial special teams play. Yet heading into his senior year, it’s Sainristil’s defense that is being talked about by Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines football staff.

Harbaugh joined the In the Trenches podcast with Jon Jansen to run through the state of the entire Michigan roster. He made a particular point to highlight Sainristil on more than one occasion.

“Put him anywhere. He’s a leader,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we love. We’ve got some real strong leaders in the secondary. Guys that aren’t afraid to talk.”

Speculation had been surrounding Sainristil all offseason, as it had been rumored he would be playing on both offense and defense this fall. Harbaugh’s inclusion of Sainristil in the secondary discussion confirms that to be the case.

“Starting on defense right now, but also comes over to offense and looks like he hasn’t left offense the entire spring,” Harbaugh said. “Yeah, I do (anticipate him playing both during the season), he’s got the skillset to do it. He’s been really, really impressive. If you’re gonna bet on a guy, bet on a guy like Mike Sairinstil to be able to get that done. He handles his business all the time — he’s just that kinda guy. And then he has the athleticism, skillset to be a two-way player.”

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder out of Everett, Massachusetts has already made waves in the defensive secondary, even though he hasn’t played corner since his days in high school. He was recruited by Michigan as an athlete, but many saw him as a defensive player, especially Sainristil’s primary recruiter back then, Don Brown.

Not many players are able to play both offense and defense consistently in college, let alone at a high level. If Harbaugh’s comments and thoughts turn out to be accurate this fall, Sainristil could be one of the most versatile and dangerous players on either side of the ball.