With Mike Morris off to the NFL and Eyabi Okie transferring, the Michigan Wolverines are in need of other players to take a step forward and become the next standouts along the edge of the defensive line.
Among the likely players to do so is senior Braiden McGregor. A season ago, he only compiled 16 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two pass breakups in a rotational role. With the aforementioned edge rushers now gone, he could easily increase those stats this fall and be a key contributor.
During his time with the media Tuesday, defensive coordinator Jesse Minter admitted McGregor has what it takes to be a “dominant player,” but he needs to put it all together on a more consistent basis.
“Braiden McGregor — man, there’s a guy that, when you talk about the process of development, everybody’s sometimes on a different trajectory there,” Minter said. “Sometimes, injury related, confidence related, people in front of you related. He’s had a career here where (he’s) dealt with injuries, dealt with the No. 2 pick in the draft (Aidan Hutchinson) being in front of him, other guys. So I think he’s trusted the process here and he’s continued to develop at a really fast, high rate, especially coming off what he’s dealt with prior. So I’m really, really excited about Braiden. I think he has the chance to be a dominant player.
“I think the challenge for him is he does it in spurts, and he knows this — it’s to take over a game. And he has that capability, so I’m excited to see that happen.”
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of this. McGregor said earlier this month he had a conversation with Minter about his potential along the edge. Minter told him, “Man, you have what it takes, it’s all mentality. You know, you are the same size as Aidan (Hutchinson). You have the same physical tools and you saw what he did with it. So, it’s your turn.’”
Linebacker Junior Colson, also said in a media availability in March that McGregor has what it takes to have a “crazy type of year,” and “he believes in himself, and you can tell he has all the traits and tools to be great.”
The hype for McGregor predates spring practices, as head coach Jim Harbaugh stated on the Inside Michigan Football radio show back in November following the Ohio State game that, “he’s the next guy. He’s the guy that’s on the verge of stardom.”
Whether or not he lives up to the hype in 2023 is to be determined. but it’s clear McGregor has confidence from his coaches and peers, and has the potential to be one of the next great pass rushers in Ann Arbor.