Offensive tackle Jeff Persi was part of last year’s Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line, but mostly in a reserve and special teams role. Is 2023 the year he will get some more playing time as he looks to ascend up the depth chart?
As part of a series at Maize n Brew leading up to the start of the season, let’s break down Persi’s path to Michigan and his outlook for 2023.
The story so far
Persi committed to Michigan in June 2019 as part of the 2020 class, choosing the Wolverines over UCLA. Persi was a four-star prospect from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and the 24th-best offensive tackle in the class, according to 247Sports’ composite. He was a two-year varsity starter at tackle in high school after converting from tight end.
Persi didn’t see game action his freshman season in 2020, and only appeared in two games at left tackle in 2021, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors. In 2022, his role expanded significantly, as he got more reps on special teams. Persi appeared in all 14 games, primarily in a special teams role. He was named co-Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance against Illinois.
While Persi played primarily on special teams, he also got reps at left tackle and jumbo tackle during the season, including his first career start at left tackle against Rutgers when starter Ryan Hayes was injured.
Outlook for 2023
With Hayes in the NFL, there’s an opening for Persi to earn a starting spot in 2023. Jim Harbaugh spoke highly of his performance in his start against Rutgers last year, saying, “His strike was good, he’s gonna continue to get stronger … (Persi’s) next improvement is being able to stay with it, stay with that block, not let that defender separate and go make the tackle. And that’ll be a very good next step for Jeff because he’s really good.”
However, the addition of Arizona State transfer LaDarius Henderson makes Persi’s path to a starting role more challenging. Henderson started 29 games for the Sun Devils during his time there, including 10 at left tackle. While Henderson has taken more snaps at guard, Trevor Keegan is almost certain to be the starting left guard again this year, making left tackle a natural fit. Henderson was considered one of the best players in the portal, and per PFF, was charged with just two sacks over his last two seasons. However, Persi has more experience in Moore’s system and isn’t out of the race yet.
Whether Persi starts at left tackle this year or not, he’ll certainly continue to be an important member of the special teams units and will likely get snaps on the offensive line even as a second-teamer or in case of an injury, as he did last year.