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DT Spring Preview: Taking the next step forward

With a potential star and emerging young players, the defensive tackle spot could be in really good hands.

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Last season, everyone wondered how the Michigan Wolverines would replace their all-worldly pass rush in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. A slew of players stepped up to the plate and provided relief for what many fans thought could be a weak spot in 2022.

Now, the Wolverines enter 2023 spring practices with not a ton of huge question marks. With the guidance of second-year defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, they should keep the good times rolling, especially on the interior of the defensive line with guys like Kris Jenkins, and Mason Graham back for more.

Let’s take a further look at the defensive tackles as spring practice continues.

Kris Jenkins

After starting all 14 games last season along the defensive line, and being a senior in 2023, expect Jenkins to be the leader of this group.

Jenkins already has shown he can be a force for the defense. In 2022, he led all defensive linemen linemen with 54 tackles. He also had 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. His play earned him an All Big-Ten honorable mention.

With another offseason under his belt, Jenkins should make more strides and will have a chance to have a very special season. The sky is the limit for him.

Mason Graham

As a freshman, Mason Graham played in every game and was named a freshman All-American by Pro Football Focus. He did that by accumulating 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He was also named Defensive Freshman of the Year with Will Johnson. It was a special season for a special player.

The statistics Graham put up and the influence he had on the game would be great for any player, but the fact he was able to do it all as a true freshman is what has fans so excited.

The future of the defensive line, and the defense as a whole, is in great hands with Graham as a part of it, and it’s going to be a blast to see what he can do as a sophomore.

Rayshaun Benny

Heading into his junior season, Rayshaun Benny is a player who should take a big jump in 2023. Last season, he made appearances in 13 games and had 14 tackles. He also made a very underrated play in the Ohio State game, forcing the pressure on C.J. Stroud that led to Taylor Upshaw’s interception.

Michigan fans have been excited about Benny ever since he flipped his commitment from Michigan State to Michigan. We haven’t seen a ton of him since he got to Ann Arbor, but this should be the year he really comes onto the scene.

Keep an eye on...

Kenneth Grant, Cam Goode and Ike Iwunnah.

Grant and Goode come in with some experience from last season, so expect their playing time to go up, especially the rising sophomore Grant. Meanwhile, Iwunnah hasn’t played meaningful minutes at Michigan yet, so perhaps he will be in line to receive more in 2023.