Welcome to the transfer portal era. The transfer portal currently serves as a faux-free agency for college athletics with limited regulation in order to not distract the NCAA from investigating fast food purchases.
Coupled with NIL, the portal invites change every season and theoretically helps with the national power balance. Michigan has benefited from the portal this offseason by adding several future contributors such as center Drake Nugent, tackle LaDarius Henderson, corner Josh Wallace, and linebacker Ernest Hausmann, among others.
However, the Wolverines have also been affected adversely as those who once stayed to become champions have now left. Some of the Michigan departures will thrive with expanded roles in new schemes; others will face the same struggles that diminished their roles in Ann Arbor.
Let’s take a look at the players who left and what we can expect from each of them in 2023.
EDGE Eyabi Okie - Charlotte
2022 Stats: 18 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks
2023 Projected Stats: 30 tackles, 13.5 tackles-for-loss, 10 sacks
At times, it will be unfair for Eyabi Okie to go up against AAC competition. Okie is a pass-rushing specialist who will wreak absolute havoc off the edge. While still improving as a run defender, Okie has to be the odds-on favorite to lead the conference in sacks.
TE Erick All - Iowa
2021* Stats: 38 receptions, 437 yards, two touchdowns
2023 Proj. Stats: 47 receptions, 538 yards, four touchdowns
Exciting offense and Iowa football go together like peanut butter and paint thinner. Erick All will presumably be the top target, but returning tight end Luke Lachey will cut into some of his production in this limited passing offense.
LB Nikhai Hill-Green - Charlotte
2021* Stats: 50 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss
2023 Proj. Stats: 77 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, one sack
NHG is an excellent run-stuffing defender, and his lack of lateral quickness will be less exposed dropping down to AAC competition. Expect him to be among the leading tacklers on Charlotte this season.
EDGE Taylor Upshaw - Arizona
2022 Stats: 11 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception
2023 Proj. Stats: 22 tackles, nine tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks
Taylor Upshaw wanted a bigger role and found one in Tucson after a brief pit stop in Boulder. Alongside All-Conference EDGE Laiatu Latu, the duo will form one of the best pass-rushing combos in the Pac-12.
WR/PR AJ Henning - Northwestern
2022 Stats: Nine receptions, 60 yards / 28 punt returns, 201 yards, one touchdown
2023 Proj. Stats: 34 receptions, 447 yards, two touchdowns / 13 punt returns, 55 yards
AJ Henning will bring a MUCH-needed positive presence off the field for the Wildcats and an electric presence on it. But how much difference can a return specialist with shaky hands make for a team that hasn’t won a game on North American soil in two years?
DL George Rooks - Boston College
2022 Stats: One tackle, one fumble recovery
2023 Proj. Stats: 15 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, 0.5 sacks
George Rooks was an ascending player for the Wolverines but unfortunately played at a position log-jammed with young talent. Rooks will have an opportunity to see the field early and often with BC.
QB Alan Bowman - Oklahoma State
2020* Stats: 150/232, 1,602 yards, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions
2023 Proj. Stats: 219/340, 2,696, 18 touchdowns, nine interceptions
Alan Bowman has not been a starting quarterback in three years and is currently locked in a positional battle in Stillwater. He will never set the world on fire, but he will bring experience and steady leadership to the Cowboys’ offense.
QB Cade McNamara - Iowa
2021* Stats: 210/327, 2,576 yards, 15 touchdowns, six interceptions
2023 Proj. Stats: 183/292, 2,083, 12 touchdowns, five interceptions
Cade McNamara joins an offense with fewer weapons, creativity, and all-around competence than he has ever played with. McNamara is an upgrade from Spence Petras, but with Brian Ferentz still in charge of the offense, no quarterback will ever reach their true potential in this system.
S RJ Moten - Florida
2022 Stats: 31 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception
2023 Proj. Stats: 33 tackles, one tackle-for-loss, two interceptions
Despite the slight uptick in box score production, RJ Moten has steadily regressed as an all-around player since 2021. Moten quickly became a liability in run support and subsequently saw his snap count decline at Michigan. Expect more of the same in Gainesville.
WR Andrel Anthony - Oklahoma
2022 Stats: Seven receptions, 80 yards, one touchdown
2023 Proj. Stats: 37 receptions, 512 yards, three touchdowns
Andrel Anthony has the straight-line speed to help elevate this offense next season; however, he will have to drastically improve his consistency as a route-runner and pass-catcher if he is going to stay on the field for Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables.
Best of the Rest
DL Julius Welschof (Charlotte), TE Louis Hansen (UConn), Deuce Spurlock (Florida), CB Damani Dent (Charlotte)
These final four players will all compete for limited rotational time and will primarily serve as special teams players in 2023.