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Ike Iwunnah’s path to Michigan, outlook for 2022

Can the redshirt freshman carve out a contributing role in 2022?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ike Iwunnah came to Michigan in 2021 as a less-heralded three-star prospect with high-upside athletic potential.

Iwunnah was a two-sport athlete in high school by participating in football, obviously, and track and field. While that isn’t uncommon, it is uncommon for a 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle to be a triple jumper on the track team.

He always possessed a rare athleticism, but Iwunnah’s play on the field fell short of his ultimate potential, causing him to slide down recruiting boards. However, several Power 5 schools, including local Baylor, took notice. After initially committing to play at Colorado, Iwunnah ultimately chose to take his talents to Ann Arbor and committed to the Wolverines on National Signing Day in Feb. 2021.

As a true freshman, Iwunnah quickly bulked up to 306 pounds to prepare himself for the grind of playing defensive tackle in the Big Ten. While he did not see game action in 2021, he was an avid scout team player and was able to learn from veteran leaders along the defensive line such as Aidan Hutchinson and Donovan Jeter.

In 2022, expect Iwunnah to carve out at a place as a special teams player. With his combination of size and athleticism, Iwunnah could become a valuable, mammoth chess piece for special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh to deploy across varying units.

Moreover, if new defensive line coach Mike Elston is able to expedite Iwunnah’s development, he could become a depth-providing rotational defensive tackle. Granted, he is more than likely not playing any higher than third-string this season, any experience is positive experience to continue Iwunnah’s development.