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Michigan’s unique approach to recruiting defensive backs in 2021

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Don Brown is looking for versatility in the defensive backfield.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 Michigan at Indiana

On this week’s Future Brew podcast, Von Lozon and Jon Simmons dove into some of Michigan’s top defensive back recruits available in the 2021 class, and the Wolverine’s different approach to recruiting the position in this class.

Lozon: “(Michigan’s defensive back targets) are kind of all up there. I don’t know if you have any ideas or predictions or anything. But they’re kind of recruiting all these guys and I don’t know who they’re recruiting the hardest. I’ve talked with Ryan Barnes plenty over the last few weeks, so I kinda know how much they’re talking to him, and they’re talking to him quite a bit. So I would anticipate he’s probably up there, if not No. 1, No. 2.

“There’s a lot of guys there. I feel like defensive line, you know who the top guys are. But here, it’s kind of a mixed bag. So who do you think is their No. 1 go-to guy, because they’re kind of just recruiting defensive backs.”

Simmons: “If I had to pick one (DB top target), I’d pick Ryan Barnes because he can play both the safety and cornerback position, and that’s the versatility they really want. I do think he’s trending hard toward Notre Dame right now .. so I think he may be off the board soon to the Irish.

“So after him, I think McMillon definitely at safety. I think safety is a little more clearer than cornerback. I think McMillon is the clear No. 1 guy. He’s from Pennsylvania, he has Bob Shoop and Mike Zordich going after him who are both from the state as well, so I think that’s a really good pairing to have recruiting him.”

Lozon: “I think they want a few more guys — it doesn’t really matter if it’s a corner or a safety because they’re kinda going after both at this point. It sounds like they’re pretty open at this point as to how they round out their defensive backfield in this 2021 class. It’s really interesting because — correct me if I’m wrong — but I feel like they haven’t really gone after these hybrid cornerback-safeties all that much. I feel like it’s typically a corner or a safety, and they’re clearly looking for versatility in their secondary now.

“It’s kind of, I guess a foreshadow, because at the end of the season last year they had Vincent Gray doing a lot of cornerback and safety duties, especially in that game against Alabama. I think Don Brown brought it up in his press conference last week, and the versatility he had playing cornerback and safety. I don’t know if this is gonna be something we see out of all defensive backs at Michigan moving forward, but it will certainly be interesting to see how they approach it going into this season and also how they approach it on the recruiting trail.”

Check out the full podcast below, and check out the defensive back conversation around the 30-minute mark.