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10 early Michigan football bold predictions for 2024

At the time of this writing, we still don’t know who all will be on new Michigan football head coach Sherrone Moore’s staff. The transfer portal window — which opened with Jim Harbaugh’s departure — remains open for just over two more weeks. Thus, we have no idea what we will see even in spring, let alone fall 2024.

Yet, we’re going to go out on a limb and make some predictions, nonetheless. Bold predictions.

The 2023 season ended a month ago for the maize and blue but we’re starting to look forward. Without further ado, here are our way too early 10 bold predictions for 2024.

The 2024 QB will come from within

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

Other teams that don’t have a blue-chip or ringer at quarterback are likely to look outward, but Michigan football very well could roll with one of the players already on the roster, rather than dip into the transfer portal.

Granted, there are no top quarterbacks currently available via the portal, but even if there were, the Wolverines have solid options. Jayden Denegal appears to have taken a big step forward over the course of the fall. Alex Orji has a similar skill set to Alabama QB Jalen Milroe and could be a special talent under center. Davis Warren didn’t have an impressive showing in garbage time last year, but he was thought of highly inside Schembechler Hall, regardless. And then there’s true freshman Jadyn Davis, who could surprise and take over the starting role in his first year.

Michigan has players, and any one of them could be a solid starter. Orji is perhaps the most tantalizing — at least this year — and we’re betting the maize and blue roll with one of the above instead of dipping into the spring portal to bring in a potentially established name.

The rushing production will increase from 2023

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

With opponents keying in on the Michigan football run game last year, production went down pretty sharply compared to the past two years. And while Blake Corum was a special talent, with Moore now leading the way as the head coach, the emphasis on the run isn’t going away.

Donovan Edwards had a down year last year, and while Kalel Mullings showed flashes, he was injured for much of the season. There are a lot of options outside those two: sophomores Benjamin Hall and Cole Cabana and freshman Jordan Marshall. The room is deep and has a ton of talent. Expect the rushing attack to flourish, even without Corum, with Edwards finding his groove again while Mullings steps into a similar role to Hassan Haskins in 2021. Michigan rushed for 2,536 yards in 15 games in 2023, but amassed over 3,000 yards in 14 games in 2021-22. We’re betting that the maize and blue find a way to gain more yards in 2024.

The defense, assuming similar scheme, will be top in the Big Ten

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

This is a bold prediction, indeed, given the teams around the Wolverines and some big-time offenses on the schedule. What’s more, we still don’t know who the defensive coordinator is (as of Monday, February 5). And while there are some big losses on the defensive side of the ball (Mike Sainristil, Mike Barrett, Junior Colson, Kris Jenkins, and Josh Wallace), there are a ton of players waiting to step in, and returning players who weren’t necessarily starters who played starters minutes last year.

If the scheme stays the same, we believe Michigan has managed to concoct a defense similar in spirit to Iowa under Phil Parker — everyone knows their jobs and does it well. Though Ohio State and the Hawkeyes should have fantastic defensive attacks in 2024, we’re predicting that somehow the Wolverines end up having the best defense, one way or another, yet again.

Semaj Morgan will become a national star

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

It’s rare for a freshman wide receiver to be a pivotal playmaker in year one, but Semaj Morgan showed flashes when called upon. With Roman Wilson, Cornelius Johnson, and Darrius Clemons gone, the Wolverines will need someone to step up.

Given the early trust in Morgan’s ability and the fact that players tend to improve from year one to year two, we expect to see him on the field early and often. Michigan will find ways to get him the ball and given what we’ve already seen from the fan favorite, it wouldn’t surprise to see him take his game to the next level — and earn national accolades as a result.

Donovan Edwards will be top 3 in receptions

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

This is maybe not too bold of a prediction as Edwards, even with limited production through the air last year, was fourth on the team in receiving last year. As mentioned, there’s a dearth of returners at wideout, which opens up the door for perhaps the best receiver on the team in Edwards.

While we didn’t really see him line up much at wide receiver last year, that’s in his wheelhouse. So, whether it’s out of the backfield as an outlet, or lining up wide, expect Michigan to take advantage of one of its biggest mismatches in 2024, finding ways to get Edwards the ball in space. It’s probably the best shot for the defense to stretch the field without the star players it had in 2023.

Michigan will beat one of the USC, Oregon

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan sees three of the four newcomers to the Big Ten in 2024, and while Washington — the Wolverines’ opponent in the national championship game — looked daunting last year, the Huskies lose more than any other team in the conference due to the mass exodus following the 2023 season. Thus, we’re focusing more on USC and Oregon.

Both teams come to The Big House in the regular season — long trips for each. USC may have an improved defense this year, but its offense takes a hit with Caleb Williams entering the NFL draft. That’s probably the best bet, especially with the game coming in Week 4. Oregon may be trickier as it returns a ton of talent and reloads at quarterback with Dillon Gabriel. But the Ducks have managed to lose a lot of their bigger games in recent years, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see what will likely be considered an upset when that game arrives on the schedule.

Michigan will beat one of Texas, Ohio State

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

Similar theme to the above, but two different teams.

Michigan has won three straight against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes appear to be going all-in via the transfer portal and returning players in effort to beat the Wolverines and win a national championship. This season’s game will be down in Columbus, which makes the challenge that much more daunting.

Texas is similarly loaded, but the Longhorns lose some established talent and come to Ann Arbor in Week 2. It wouldn’t be as much of a surprise to see the maize and blue pull that one out if many of the aforementioned predictions come true, but both will certainly be difficult contests.

Recruiting will look more like early Harbaugh than late in 2025, 2026

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

When Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2015, he took the college football world by storm. And he took advantage of his newfound position as Michigan’s head coach on the recruiting trail.

Sherrone Moore won’t likely need to hold sleepovers or climb trees or jump into pools to sway top-flight recruits. And Michigan has been at a disadvantage in recent years due to not competing with other schools in terms of name, image, and likeness. But given Moore’s penchant as a voracious, aggressive recruiter, and ability to sell the program coming off of a national championship, expect the Wolverines to work their way back into the top 10, if not in the 2025 recruiting class, certainly as the 2026 class starts to gain more focus over the course of the year.

The Wolverines will address all needs in spring transfer portal

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

Our least bold prediction of all, Michigan wasn’t really able to attack the winter portal too hard with all of the head coaching uncertainty mixed with making a long, deep postseason run. That leaves the spring window to address any and all needs the maize and blue might have.

Wide receiver and cornerback appear to be the biggest needs, and Michigan will likely manage to secure someone coming out of spring ball looking for a new opportunity. Of course, more needs could pop up, depending on any potential attrition. But —

Michigan will lose little in the transfer portal

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

As Sherrone Moore assembles his staff, there is certainly concern that if he makes any missteps players could depart — especially in this new era of unchecked tampering. Yes, some have fielded offers from other schools, but have continued to stand pat, hoping to remain with the program that courted them in the first place.

If any do leave, it would likely come in the spring, but with Champions Circle being aggressive in fundraising and Moore likely to be in desperation mode to retain his current roster, we’re predicting we don’t see any of the big names head elsewhere. But, of course, it will require NIL to be competitive, and we’re more predicting that the Wolverines will find a way on that front.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire