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Predicting Michigan’s Spring Ball Offensive Depth Chart

A look at position battles and predicting how things may shake out.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 Semifinal Game Fiesta Bowl Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michigan’s spring game is just a few weeks away, taking place at Michigan Stadium on April 1. The team is currently practicing and there are plenty of position battles going on.

With that in mind here’s a


  • Starter: J.J. McCarthy
  • Backup: Jack Tuttle/Davis Warren
  • In the mix: Jayden Denegal, Alex Orji

J.J. McCarthy has the keys to Michigan’s offense and he’s firmly entrenched as Michigan’s QB1. Who will be McCarthy’s backup is where the debate begins. While some may consider this a two-man race between Indiana grad transfer Jack Tuttle and former walk-on Davis Warren, the likes of Jayden Denegal and Alex Orji will have a chance to show they’re much improved.

“Backup quarterback-wise, Davis Warren, Jack Tuttle, Alex Orji — Jayden Denegal is already off to a really hot start in the spring. So is Jack Tuttle,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said two weeks ago.”

If Tuttle can pick Michigan’s scheme up quickly and limit mistakes and turnovers, the backup job may become his. Warren rose to backup last season after Cade McNamara was injured, but will he be able to hold off Tuttle and a 6-foot-5 Denegal that looks like a strong and athletic dual-threat quarterback? The final question will be can Alex Orji develop into a consistent passer or will his greatest contributions be with his legs? Orji scored two rushing touchdowns last season.

There are a lot of unknowns after McCarthy on the depth chart, but with the group of guys now in the QB room, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic one or two of these options can pan out and help Michigan win some games if their number is called.

Running Back

  • Starters: Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards
  • Backups: Kalel Mullings, C.J. Stokes, Cole Cabana
  • In the mix: Isaiah Gash, Benjamin Hall, Tavierre Dunlap

Michigan has arguably the best running back duo in the nation with Corum and Edwards with versatile players behind them on the depth chart. Kalel Mullings could receive short-yardage carries next season, C.J. Stokes showed promise in spurts last year after he fixed ball security woes.

True freshman Cole Cabana is a speedster who could become Corum-like during his time in Ann Arbor. There’s excitement surrounding Cabana much like there was Corum as a freshman. Cabana will see the field, and if he produces he’ll get on the field with even more regularity.

True freshman Benjamin Hall projects as a power-back and Isaiah Gash could still see some snaps as a pass-catching back.

Wide Receiver

  • Starters: Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson, A.J. Henning
  • Backups: Darrius Clemons, Tyler Morris, Amorion Walker
  • In the mix: Peyton O’Leary, Cristian Dixon, Eamonn Dennis, Semaj Morgan, Fredrick Moore

Johnson had a huge day against Ohio State and finished the season with 32 receptions for 499 yards and a team-leading six touchdown receptions. Johnson decided to return to Michigan instead of head to the NFL and he’ll be looking to put up his best statistical season yet. Roman Wilson and J.J. McCarthy have developed a great rapport and McCarthy loves to throw it deep to the speedy Wilson. Don’t be surprised if Wilson’s name is known nationally by the end of 2023, he could have a huge season.

This is a make-or-break year for A.J. Henning as a receiver. Henning’s been a great returner on special teams, but if he can figure it all out as a wideout it would help himself and the team greatly. Behind Henning, there are younger guys that Jim Harbaugh called a “freak show” last year — Darrius Clemons, Tyler Morris, and Amorion Walker. All three are in line for a lot more snaps than they received a season ago. Walker could be a two-way player for the Wolverines as a cornerback and wideout, thus how much he plays on offense remains to be seen.

Tight End

  • Starters: Colston Loveland, AJ Barner
  • Backups: Max Bredeson, Matt Hibner
  • In the mix: Marlin Klein, Zack Marshall

Loveland received a lot more playing time than he thought he would. Erick All was out for the season in mid-September, and Luke Schoonmaker missed time due to injury as well. Loveland ascended to TE No. 1 at times and the moment didn’t seem too big for him. Loveland hauled in 16 passes for 235 yards with two touchdowns last season, his touchdowns came against Ohio State the last week of the regular season and then versus Purdue in the Big Ten Championship the following week. Big-time plays in big moments. Loveland looks like a tight end that can stretch the field with physicality.

Behind Loveland will be Indiana transfer AJ Barner. Barner was a team captain for IU in 2022 and caught 28 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns. Max Bredeson will receive snaps as well after five receptions for 78 yards last season. Michigan loves using their tight ends, especially in running packages, so Marlin Klein, Matt Hibner, and Zack Marshall will all see the field as well.

Offensive Line

  • Offensive Tackle: LaDarius Henderson, Karsen Barnhart
  • Offensive Guard: Trevor Keegan, Zak Zinter
  • Center: Drake Nugent
  • Backups: Myles Hinton, Trente Jones, Giovanni El-Hadi, Raheem Anderson, Jeff Persi, Greg Crippen
  • In the mix: Andrew Gentry, Tristan Bounds, Reece Atteberry, Dominick Giudice, Amir Herring

This one is a crapshoot. There are a lot of names, and a lot to be sorted out this spring. Michigan’s won back-to-back Joe Moore Awards, which is awarded to the best offensive line in the nation. In short, meritocracy has been working for the unit under offensive coordinator/OL coach Sherrone Moore. He seems to put together the right pieces to allow the o-line to survive.

Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter could have both made the leap for the NFL but decided to come back to Michigan to win a National Championship. Arizona State transfer LaDarius Henderson was the best transfer lineman this offseason and Michigan landing him was huge. There are two other transfers along the o-line, both from Stanford in Drake Nugent and Myles Hinton. Nugent was a captain for Stanford last season, while Hinton started seven games. Trente Jones started six games for Michigan last season and could push Karsen Barnhart, who started eight games in 2022 at right tackle.

Michigan’s offensive line is deep this season and who starts Week 1 from left to right is anyone’s guess, this just happens to be mine as we sit here in early March.