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Jim Harbaugh says Josaiah Stewart ‘can really rush the quarterback’

Speed to power. Stewart has a unique set of skills.

Michigan Spring Football Game Photo by Jaime Crawford/Getty Images

Michigan has talented and versatile options at edge-rusher heading into the 2023 season.

Despite losing Mike Morris to the NFL and Eyabi Okie via the transfer portal, there’s room for optimism that Michigan can have an even more potent pass rush than they had a season ago.

Four major names to consider at edge are Jaylen Harrell, Braiden McGregor, Derrick Moore, and Coastal Carolina transfer Josaiah Stewart.

While Stewart’s the newest member of the bunch, he’s already made an impression on head coach Jim Harbaugh and could be in line for a steady dose of playing time shortly.

“Josaiah Stewart is one of four guys that I would consider a starting edge right now,” Harbaugh said at Big Ten Media Day on Thursday.

Harbaugh compared the situation at edge to the quarterback competition between Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy last season. Harbaugh said they may find out who the two best are in training camp or it could be something that goes into the season to find out.

In two seasons at Coastal Carolina Stewart tallied 16 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. While Stewart stands 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, and may be perceived as small for his position, he’s been able to get the job done.

“He does it in a great way, a different way,” Harbaugh explained. “He’s got this lower pad level. He gets under everybody so fast, so quick. He can really rush the quarterback. He’s in an even better position than he was in the spring in terms of knowing the system and knowing his role in the defense.”

Edge-rusher Braiden McGregor noted earlier this offseason that Stewart is aggressive “every single snap.”

“He’s trying to put everybody on their butt, set the tackles down,” McGregor said. “He gets to the quarterback — he’s there a lot.”

Michigan brought Stewart into the fold to get to the QB, and if he’s able to do so with regularity he’ll become a big part of the Wolverines defense this season.