Jim Harbaugh has featured a bunch talented offensive linemen during his time as the Michigan Wolverines head coach, some of whom found the field very early on. However, the sign of a sustainable program is not having to throw true freshman into the fire all the time, instead continuously developing the next waves of players.
Jeffrey Persi fits this mold, having plenty of potential but only seeing the field twice during his first two seasons in Ann Arbor (though he did make a Big Ten Championship Game appearance!). 2022 should be another year of development, but the future is about to start looking a little more open.
The story so far
Persi comes from Southern California, finishing as a four star and the No. 24 offensive tackle in the 247Sports composite for 2020’s recruiting class. Though not a top-tier prospect, he earned plenty of respectable offers — including from foundational Big Ten programs like USC and UCLA — based of his long-term potential.
Michigan has not had a need for the 305-pound redshirt sophomore, with plenty of talent at tackle. This has allowed Persi to bulk up to this size and fill out his big frame while maintaining above-average athleticism. The advantage of having a Joe Moore Award-winning line is it allows teams to take developmental options with this very plan in mind.
Persi has at least appeared in a pair of games so far, though there is not more than that to report as of now. Given the nature of the offensive line, past snap counts should not cause too much concern about future. Years three and four were always going to be his chance to step into the first team, and that time is nearly here.
Outlook moving forward
Ryan Hayes, Trente Jones, and Karsen Barnhart all enter the 2022 season ahead of Persi, but after that the depth chart opens up. Persi saw some action during the spring game, and it is reasonable to think he will be one of the first tackles off the bench in garbage time or if an injury should occur (please no).
Persi was not a complete lotto ticket, but he was not necessarily guaranteed to be a sure thing either. In that regard, Michigan is not completely screwed if he never pans out. However, it would be a big missed opportunity, as his size and technique form the foundation of a truly impressive tackle if everything comes together.
So this becomes a massive year for Persi, even if a lot of that happens off the field. There will be some vacancies to fill next season, and no one has run away with the job yet. Another strong developmental push should have him situated as well as anyone to seamlessly jump in at the start of 2023.