The Michigan Wolverines secondary was a fluid situation under Mike Macdonald last season because there was such a slew of talent that could play multiple positions in different packages. Safety Makari Paige was a benefactor of that. He appeared in nine games and saw a few snaps in the Big Ten Championship against Iowa.
Let’s evaluate what got him to that point and where he could be headed with both Brad Hawkins and Daxton Hill no longer in Ann Arbor.
The story so far
Paige was a four-star according to the 247Sports composite, coming in as the No. 245 player in the country. The West Bloomfield native took a while to commit to the Wolverines after taking official visits to Penn State and Ohio State prior to signing his letter of intent.
It was clear why so many wanted him. At 6-foot-3, Paige had lengthy arms and plenty of athleticism, making it hard for him to not be on the field. He’s a ballhawk playing at the last level of the defense who can cover a lot of ground quickly. He ran a 4.38 as a senior in high school and many expected him to be able to keep that speed at a heavier weight. That also allowed him the versatility to play multiple positions as a defensive back, lining up at nickel, strong safety and free safety throughout his career.
He played in all six games as a true freshman in 2020 and register six tackles while also contributing to the special teams. When 2021 came around, he continued to build that momentum but was passed up in the depth chart by R.J. Moten and Rod Moore.
Outlook for 2022
As a junior, Paige will likely be the backup, and a very talented one at that, to Moten at free safety. When Michigan goes three deep on obvious passing downs, he will very likely be the third guy on the field. He could even have the opportunity to get some snaps at the nickel role depending on the personnel on the field.
Paige is now listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. He is going to be a physical option to line up over a tight end at the line of scrimmage, either in-line or out in the slot. If he plays at a high level, he will continue to earn more time on the field, especially if Jesse Minter follows in Macdonald’s path of putting several different defensive back combinations on the field throughout the season.