Sports arguments taking place in bars are the backbone of human conversation. From bars in Liverpool debating the greatness of Mo Salah to those in Ann Arbor taking a hypothetical matchup between Charles Woodson vs. Anthony Carter down to each player’s vertical, these debates have long fueled the ire of fandom across the globe.
One such hypothetical recently captured my imagination: if you could add one player from any Big Ten team, who would you add? I decided to expand that and select one player from each team. Now, these selections happen in a vacuum, meaning you don’t pass up on Iowa’s Cooper DeJean because you already have Penn State’s Kalen King.
This is simply choosing one player from each team based on the impact they would have for the Wolverines in 2023.
Some of these selections are based on need. For example, Michigan needs more help at the corner and wide receiver positions, so those take priority over running back and safety. However, with some teams, it was as simple as answering, “Who is the best player on the roster?”
Order another round of Busch Lights and let’s get into it.
Illinois - DT Jer’Zhan Newton
Newton might not only be the best defensive tackle in the Big Ten next year, but the entire country. Last season, Newton racked up 61 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He was a second-team All-American across several outlets and while Michigan has zero need for a defensive tackle behind Kris Jenkins, Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham, you cannot bypass a player of Newton’s caliber.
Also considered: WR Isaiah Williams
Indiana - RB/KR Jaylin Lucas
Indiana’s roster is bad and devoid of talent at any position Lucas doesn’t play. Last season, the dynamic multi-purpose back flashed as a runner and receiver, and garnered All-American honors as a kick returner. For the Wolverines, Lucas could replace the role left vacant by A.J. Henning and provide a jolt of electricity to this power-based offense.
Also considered: The ghost of Antwaan Randle El
Iowa - CB Cooper DeJean
DeJean is tailor-made for Michigan’s defense. He is an outstanding zone coverage corner who loves to tackle and has a knack for the big play. The first-team All-Big Ten corner finished last season with 75 tackles, three tackles for loss and five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Paired next to Will Johnson, Michigan would not have one flaw in the back seven.
Also considered: P Tory Taylor,
TE Erick All
Maryland - RB Antwain Littleton II
Yes, Roman Hemby is the starting running back, but Michigan doesn’t need a starting running back. What the Wolverines could benefit from is the bruising, physical style of Maryland’s backup running back, Littleton II. He is a 6-foot, 235 pounds and runs with bad intentions and the force of an avalanche. With his proven experience and size, Littleton could handle the short-yardage dirty work and keep Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards fresh for the season's final stretch.
Also considered: WR Jeshaun Jones
Michigan State - TE Maliq Carr
This pick may surprise some people who favor corner Charles Brantley or the tackling machine Cal Halladay, but man, I love Carr’s game. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end is a matchup nightmare that would be used like a chess piece alongside Colston Loveland in Sherrone Moore’s offense.
Also considered: LB Cal Halladay, WR Keon Coleman (oh wait)
Minnesota - WR Chris Autman-Bell
Autman-Bell brings leadership and more high-level experience (literally) than anyone else in the country. The seventh-year senior could solidify the third wide receiver position for the Wolverines and provide a physical and reliable option for J.J. McCarthy in the middle of the field.
Also considered: S Tyler Nubin
Nebraska - LB MJ Sherman
The Georgia transfer is one of my favorites to be a breakout player in the Big Ten this season. Sherman has yet to reach his potential but has 39 games of experience and two years of eligibility remaining. For the Wolverines, Sherman would immediately add depth to the middle of the defense and absorb recent transfer Nikhai Hill-Green’s rotational responsibilities.
Also considered: RB Anthony Grant
Northwestern - LB Bryce Gallagher
Death, taxes and Pat Fitzgerald developing linebackers. Over the last two seasons, Gallagher has accrued a staggering 190 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Forget depth, Gallagher comes to Michigan to start next to Junior Colson and forms the strongest linebacker duo in the Big Ten.
Also considered: DL Sean McLaughlin
Ohio State - WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
Harrison Jr. is a cross between Mike Evans and Charizard, and is the best player regardless of position in the conference. Let’s keep it moving.
Also considered: edge JT Tuimolau, WR Emeka Egbuka
Penn State - CB Kalen King
King is widely regarded as one of the top corners in the country and was recently ranked as the 10th-best player in college football by On3. King finished last season with three interceptions and a staggering 18 pass breakups, the latter being the third-highest mark in the country. Pairing the Detroit native next to Will Johnson would form among the best corner duos in U-M history, and it’s only fitting they are both Michiganders.
Also considered: edge Chop Robinson, OT Olu Fashanu
Purdue - CB Braxton Myers
The former Ole Miss corner was a Rebel for a few short weeks until he decided to follow his position coach to the Big Ten. Myers has a great frame for a freshman (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) and would bring added competition to Michigan’s second corner spot.
Also considered: RB Devin Mockobee
Rutgers - edge Aaron Lewis
Remember, Aaron Lewis? He originally committed to the Wolverines as a part of the 2020 class, but after COVID forced the cancellation of spring ball, he transferred closer to home before even one practice with the Wolverines. Lewis would bring a pass-rushing specialty to Michigan and add another capable body to their edge rotation. Not quite the return of the prodigal son, but more of the return of the adequate stepson.
Also considered: CB Max Melton
Wisconsin - RB Braelon Allen
This is purely a gluttonous pick because the three-headed monster of Corum, Edwards and Allen is too fun to pass up. Adding Allen to the room would offer defenses zero reprieves from Sherrone Moore’s SMASH mentality. With this triumvirate attack, Michigan might become the first triple-option team to win a National Championship in the modern era.
Also considered: CB Riccardo Hallman