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Julius Welschof’s path to Michigan, outlook for 2022

Can the fifth-year senior finally take the next step?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Defensive lineman Julius Welschof came to Michigan in 2018 as a relatively unknown commodity, and after four years it is still hard to predict the trajectory of his football career.

The former “project” recruit came to Michigan from the pink sheets of recruiting — Germany to be exact. Welschof hails from Miesbach, Bavaria and was a former champion moguls skier who had become obsessed with American football after learning about the sport on YouTube.

Welschof subsequently joined a club football team in Germany — whilst working at a manufacturing plant — and quickly caught the attention of scouts across the United States due to his sheer size and raw athleticism.

Presently listed at 6-foot-6, 288 pounds, Welschof runs a 40-yard dash south of 4.7 seconds and broad jumps 10’5. Before the 2021 season, Welschof was step-for-step in every workout with his talented roommate, eventual Heisman Trophy runner-up and No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft Aidan Hutchinson. It came as no surprise when both players were featured on national college football analyst Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List” before last season.

Physically, there is nothing the 25-year-old (yes, 25) cannot do in the weight room. But on the field, his old man strength and athleticism have yet to translate.

During his first two seasons as a Wolverine, Welschof only saw action in one game (Notre Dame, 2019), but in 2020, Welschof finally saw extended action. Now, a hybrid defensive tackle/end rotational player, Welschof appeared in all six games and finished the season with six tackles and 0.5 sacks.

Last season, the German appeared in all 14 games (one start) and racked up 13 tackles, 0.5 sacks and 0.5 tackles for loss. While none of those numbers will jump off the page, they also only tell half the story of Welschof’s 2021. Digging deeper, Welschof was one of Michigan’s best players on the nation’s best special teams units.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh found a way to capitalize on Welschof’s present strengths while providing him continued experience and reps on the field to continue his development.

While it appears the door has been shut for the “Welschof Truthers” clamoring into the dark that his boundless potential makes becoming a superstar an inevitability, he will be an important player in 2022.

Look for Welschof to become a more impactful rotational defensive tackle who can provide rest to presumptive starters Mazi Smith and Kris Jenkins. Welschof, paired with UCF transfer Cam Goode, could provide one of the most athletic defensive interiors in the Big Ten with both players being able to clog gaps and run down the entire line of scrimmage.

Furthermore, Welschof will continue to be a valuable weapon for the special teams unit and could potentially play all four aspects of special teams for the Wolverines.

Welschof will more than likely never be a blue-chipper, but he still possesses immense value for the Wolverines’ upcoming season.