On Jan. 17, Michigan football officially announced the hiring of new defensive line coach Mike Elston.
In a statement released by the program, head coach Jim Harbaugh mentioned his admiration for Elston’s recruiting ability while stating his confidence that Elston will be able to “hit the ground running” on the recruiting trail.
“I am excited to welcome Mike Elston to an already incredibly talented staff here at the University of Michigan,” said Harbaugh. “I’ve followed Mike’s work at Notre Dame for a while and have admired his ability to not only recruit great student-athletes, but also his proven track record in developing players for the NFL. Mike is a Michigan man so he will be able to hit the ground running.”
While it hasn’t been long since Elston has been on the job at Michigan, he has done his best to get a fast start out of the gate.
Just a day before the official announcement, Michigan did lose a 2023 commit along the defensive line in four-star Joel Sterlings, who was recruited by former defensive line coach Shaun Nua. But Elston and the defensive staff have extended several offers to recruits since being hired — and there seems to be a focused commitment to target numerous speed edge rushers.
That strategy makes sense after the season Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo just had, as the two thrived in defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s 3-4 scheme and are now set up tp be potential top 10 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
How that scheme looks going forward will be anyone’s guess amid reports Macdonald could be on the move to the Baltimore Ravens to become their next defensive coordinator. Either way, Elston and company seem to have a strategy that is still targeting the athletic edge rushers, a position that will be key to Michigan’s defense no matter who the defensive coordinator is in 2022.
The Michigan coaching staff has been on the road since the dead period ended, including taking a visit to the DMV, where a lot of the recent offers have come from.
Here is a look at some recent offers Michigan has made to some high school defensive linemen:
Joseph Mupoyi- Washington, D.C., EDGE, 6-5, 210 pounds
Elston recently extended an offer to Mupoyi out of the DMV. The three-star edge rusher has offers from three other Big Ten schools (Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers), with Miami and Ole Miss in the mix as well.
On film, Mupoyi shows his ability to get around offensive tackles with his quickness on the edge, but he can also use his hands to get off blocks and beat opposing linemen on the inside as well. When he gets into the backfield, opposing quarterbacks at the high school level seem to have trouble eluding pressure with Mupoyi’s closing speed.
The Wolverines may have a good chance to land Mupoyi, with his size and length alone being a potential fit within Michigan’s defense if he does find his way to Ann Arbor.
Dashawn Womack, Baltimore, MD, EDGE, 6-4, 230 pounds
Womack is another edge rusher and recent Michigan offer, hailing from powerhouse St. Frances Academy.
At 230 pounds, the three-star recruit has the power to be able to collapse inside the tackle box and blow up running plays from the weak side and help create penetration. On tape, he shows more of a tendency to win with his power and physicality to drive linemen straight back and collapse the pocket that way, but does show a couple moves to get him around offensive linemen in multiple ways.
He also shows his versatility to be able to drop into coverage and take away passes in the flats — something Jaylen Harrell and Mike Morris got quite good at for Michigan in rotational roles in the 2021 season. When necessary, he also shows the potential to make a tackle in the open field if needed when helping cover those short routes.
Womack’s other notable offers include Oklahoma, Maryland, Ole Miss and Penn State.
Mason Robinson, Owings Mills, MD, EDGE, 6-3, 230 pounds
Another prospect from the DMV and another edge rusher with speed. The three-star from McDonough School has an impressive first step off the line of scrimmage that allows him to wreak havoc on opposing high school quarterbacks. On top of his quickness off the edge, he shows an ability to play with eye discipline to allow himself to contain the edge on outside run plays.
His power and ability to finish tackles is also a trait that stands out on film.
Robinson’s offer list contains multiple SEC schools, including Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina, along with other notable schools such as Oklahoma, Oregon and Penn State.
Considering the competition, it looks like it will be a challenge to land Robinson. But if Elston and the staff can bring him to Ann Arbor, he brings a lot of tools the staff would be able to work with.
Desmond Umeozulu, Upper Malboro, MD, EDGE, 6-5, 220 pounds
Umeozulu is a highly-touted prospect from the DMV, ranking as the fourth ranked player in the state of Maryland and 25th-best edge rusher in the class of 2023, according to 247Sports.
If Michigan is able to land him, the Wolverines would be getting a player with tremendous upside. Umeozulu’s quick twitch ability and hand technique to shed blocks makes him a tough player to stay in front of for any opposing offensive lineman.
At 6-foot-5, he uses every bit of that length to cover a wide range when closing down space to get to ball carriers and getting in throwing lanes to knock down passes. He also uses his power to gain leverage against opposing players to shed blocks and get to the ball.
Whatever program is able to land Umeozulu is going to get a player who has all the potential to make a huge impact.
T.J. Searcy, Thomaston, GA, DE, 6-5, 250 pounds
Searcy was offered by Michigan late last week and is a four-star prospect and the 20th ranked player in Georgia, according to 247Sports.
Along with being able to rush the passer and punish opposing linemen with his physicality, he also has shown the athleticism to be able to line up as an outside linebacker to play coverage on short passes and come in on late blitzes from a stand up position, which is impressive at 250 pounds.
His sheer size makes him tough to block, combined with his ability to get off the edge and meet opposing quarterbacks in the backfield. Searcy’s versatility also shines through on the offensive side of the ball, where he is also used as a tight end at Upson-Lee High School.
The question will be whether the Wolverines can truly get squarely in the mix for Searcy and pull him away from the south, with South Carolina, Georgia and Florida State offers on the table.
Enow Etta, Colleyville, TX, EDGE, 6-4, 235 pounds
Etta is a four-star edge rusher out of Texas who was offered by Elston last week and is set to visit Michigan on Jan. 30 He also recently told The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich ($) that Michigan is currently in his top five as the Wolverines hope to continue to make a push to land him.
“I talked to coach Mike Elston and when he told me I was really exited because it was one of my top schools before I got the offer,” Etta told TMI. “I can tell he wants good players and I’m ready to answer the call.”
Etta’s visit to Ann Arbor will come a day after he takes a trip to East Lansing to visit Michigan State.
On film, Etta shows his ability to play with a tremendous amount of range. When running backs try to get the edge on outside zones and other runs designed to go outside, Etta has the discipline to create an angle to make a play.
Etta can win in multiple ways on the edge, but one of his most noticeable traits that stands out on tape is his relentless effort, as he can find sacks even when quarterbacks are scrambling away from the side he is lined up on.
After Etta makes his visit to Ann Arbor this weekend, there should be an even greater feel for how much more progress Michigan has made with him, but clearly Michigan is currently toward the top of his list.