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Center Drake Nugent's path to Michigan, outlook for 2023

Replacing Olu Oluwatimi won’t be easy, but Nugent seems more than capable of doing so.

NCAA Football: Oregon at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Tapping into the transfer portal to bolster their offensive line has become commonplace for the Michigan Wolverines. In 2022 they hit the jackpot with Virginia center Olu Oluwatimi. And now in 2022, Michigan hopes other transfer linemen flourish such as Arizona State’s tackle LaDarius Henderson, and the former Stanford duo of tackle Myles Hinton and center Drake Nugent.

With Oluwatimi heading to the NFL, Nugent could be the next man up at center for the Wolverines.

The story so far

Nugent was a three-star prospect in the class of 2019 out of Highlands Ranch in Littleton, Colorado. Nugent committed to Stanford after receiving offers from loads of programs out west including Utah, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, Arizona State, Oregon State, and others.

Nugent appeared in just two games during his first two seasons at Stanford, but things changed heavily as a junior. Nugent would ultimately make 24 starts at center for Stanford. His prowess on and off the field led to Nugent being named a team captain in 2022 and on the preseason watch lists for both the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy. Both of those awards went to Michigan’s Oluwatimi.

When Nugent entered the portal he had a specific set of criteria, and Michigan fit the bill perfectly — he wanted to go somewhere that had good players all over.

“My main criteria coming into the portal was, I want to go somewhere with a good quarterback, a good running back, and other good o-linemen,” Nugent said. “If I have those, it’s probably on a good team who’s already winning.”

Outlook moving forward

Nugent seems like the favorite to be Michigan’s starting center this fall, but not before some friendly and fiery competition in Raheem Anderson and Greg Crippen — both of whom offensive coordinator/o-line coach Sherrone Moore said had “outstanding springs.”

Nugent will have to learn Michigan’s scheme in short order to solidify his case. However, there are parallels between Michigan’s offense and what Stanford ran under head coach David Shaw — who was Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s former offensive coordinator at Stanford. There are wrinkles to the rushing attack and pass protection that will be quite familiar for Nugent to grasp.

Nugent’s a proven leader that looks to be another great addition to a Michigan offensive line that’s won the Joe Moore Award two years in a row.