Michigan has a lot of returning talent on both sides of the ball after winning the Big Ten Championship last season. However, there’s always attrition in college football and the Wolverines tapped into the transfer portal to bolster some key positions.
At Big Ten Media Day, Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins was asked to name some breakout candidates for the team. Coincidentally, Jenkins named three transfer players.
Stanford transfer center Drake Nugent and Indiana transfer tight end AJ Barner
“Drake Nugent and AJ Barner, they’re definitely gonna be a great combination. The second they got here they’ve been nothing but hard workers, dedicated to their craft. Leaders leading by example. They’re definitely gonna do something very special and we’re really happy to have them.”
Barner had 28 receptions for 199 yards with three touchdowns in 2022 and was named a team captain at Indiana.
“They just have a tradition of using the tight ends in an NFL manner with what coach Harbaugh does,” Barner said this offseason. “Play-action pass, running the ball. To play tight end you have to be an all-around player. You have to pass and run block. You’ve got to run routes against all the players on the defense. I think that was the most intriguing part.”
Nugent logged 24 starts at center for Stanford and was a team captain last season. Nugent said his main criteria in the portal was going somewhere with a good quarterback, good running back, and a good offensive line. Michigan fit the bill.
Nebraska transfer LB Ernest Hausmann
The third player Jenkins named is someone who’s just a sophomore yet already has a lot of experience. Hausmann played in 12 games for the Cornhuskers last year with seven starts, 54 tackles (36 solo), and one sack.
Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter has referred to the 6-foot-2, 220-pound LB as a “tremendous asset” and “tremendous pickup”. Jenkins feels the same.
“I think Ernest is definitely gonna shock a couple of people because he’s had that same mentality (as Nugent and Barner) and has really been focusing on getting better,” Jenkins said.
Hausmann is part of a LB room that has Junior Colson, Michael Barrett, Jimmy Rolder, and Jaydon Hood. And there are only so many starting spots to be had.
“My challenge to Ernest is to go take their spot,” Minter said in March. “My challenge to those guys is to hold on to your spot — because he’s coming.”