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Rayshaun Benny’s path to Michigan, outlook for 2022

The former flip has a high ceiling along the interior defensive line.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Keeping strong in-state talent home is always a good thing, doing so while also keeping it away from East Lansing is even better, and flipping said talent from a Michigan State verbal before bringing it home is about as good as it gets. Rayshaun Benny’s path to Ann Arbor alone put a mini spotlight on the big defensive lineman, but the hope is he becomes much more than a fun recruiting win.

Benny was looked at by some as an offensive lineman, but his best utilization is at defensive tackle. Michigan has brought in some solid recruits at this position recently, though that has not always translated to clear slam dunk wins. Nothing is make-or-break for his redshirt freshman season, but some good progress this year will give confidence to what lies ahead.

The story so far

Benny comes from Oak Park and committed to the Spartans after the disastrous 2020 contest. His recruitment continued on, however, and he ultimately made the flip that following winter. As a true freshman, he found playing time tough to come by, with just three appearances preserving his redshirt status. He had no real stats or significant tape from the 2021 campaign.

The biggest highlight has to be from garbage time in the Big Ten Championship Game, where Benny logged a pair of tackles against Iowa. Though the competitive window for the game was long gone, the fact the coaching staff gave him some time on the big stage as a true freshman shows that he is someone expected to increase in role next season.

As mentioned before, Benny did appear on offense as well in high school, so getting him ready for a full defensive workload in college takes time. Entering his second season, he should now be ready to at least hit the two-deep and be in contention for snaps at one of the tackle spots, which should yield playing time thanks to the situational rotation typically seen along the line.

Outlook moving forward

Mazi Smith returns, but the rest of the defensive front has plenty of question marks. Kris Jenkins and Julius Welschof should get some looks, but Benny and classmate George Rooks seem to be the next men up. It is no secret that the Wolverines need a couple greener faces to really step up after losing so much talent and experience along the line.

Benny seemingly has a good as of chance as anyone to be the difference maker. The story coming out of high school was all about his athleticism, be it his quick hands, strong footwork, or burst off the ball. There is certainly some room for technique refinement, but this is the type of player who can get after the quarterback from the interior and reload the talent at the position group.

It will be interesting to see where Benny lines up when he does get on the field. Some of it may come down to how those around (and ahead of him) perform, but his make-up would lend itself well at the three-tech. Benny is listed right now at 6-foot-5 and 292 pounds and can be a force in a lot of ways, but having him provide some pass rush presence up the gut could really help out a new-look defensive line unit this fall.