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Michigan players who could see their roles decrease in 2023

Are there any obvious names?

Illinois v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Have you seen the seminal 2004 comedy Mean Girls? If not, please rectify this situation.

During one memorable scene, a high school student dressed up as Santa Claus is handing out gifted candy canes to students from other students. Several students get at least one, including Taylor Zimmerman who receives two, and Glenn Coco who receives four (“You go, Glenn Coco!”).

Meanwhile, Gretchen Wieners presumptuously awaits hers. An expectant Gretchen looks toward the bearer of gifts as he approaches, but at the last moment, the Santa Claus remarks, “And none for Gretchen Wieners. Bye,” as he about-faces and leaves the classroom.

What the hell does this have to do with football, Andrew?

Even as the team returns experience and expands its offensive and defensive schemes, not everyone’s role can increase. Some players are Glenn Coco receiving more, while some are Gretchen Wieners receiving less.

An example of the former last season would be Donovan Edwards and Michael Barrett. Edwards took on a much more significant role in the offense with the departure of Hassan Haskins, and Barrett became the primary WILL linebacker with no Josh Ross or Nikhai Hill-Green in the mix.

An example of the latter would be A.J. Henning. He who was responsible for 241 yards of offense and two touchdowns in 2021 saw those numbers shrink to 69 yards and zero touchdowns in 2022.

Most coverage of the team has centered around optimism about who will take a leap this season. But today, let’s keep it real and look at who will be left without any candy canes in 2023.

LB Michael Barrett

One year Barrett is a starting linebacker, and the next he could be relegated to situational packages. While not a direct reflection of poor play, the arrival of Nebraska transfer Ernest Hausmann will eventually eat into Barrett’s former primary responsibilities.

Barrett will undoubtedly still be impactful in 2023, but there is no way he can replicate his 2022 season of 72 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and one touchdown. Expect Barrett to excel in whatever role he is tasked with, but expect it to be a lesser role than last year.

RB CJ Stokes

Stokes appears to have become the forgotten man at the running back position. As a freshman, he rushed for 273 yards, but freshman mishaps down the stretch plagued his inaugural campaign and tarnished his outlook in the immediate future.

The sophomore will have opportunities this season, but with the permanent switch of Kalel Mullings to running back and the arrival of freshmen Benjamin Hall and Cole Cabana, Stokes’ carries seem numbered next season.

DB Amorion Walker

We are bending the rules slightly with this one. Four months ago, Amorion Walker had quickly become the darling of spring ball. Anecdotes of his speed, athleticism and potential flooded the internet after a position switch from wide receiver to corner. Coaches, teammates, and fans alike raised the hype around his positional debut to astronomical levels before Michigan’s team scrimmage.

But following an atrocious performance in the spring game, some inconsistencies in practice and the subsequent arrival of experienced transfer corner Josh Wallace, it appears Walker has some work to do to avoid moving down the depth chart.