It’s the end of an era in Ann Arbor. Program legends J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum and Mike Sainristil declared for the draft and former head coach Jim Harbaugh headed to LA. It was a glorious three-year run, but now it is time to turn our eyes to the future.
Specifically, the future of the offense, which has lost 10 of its 11 starters this offseason without adding much talent through the portal. Michigan fans are feeling anxious for good reason, but there are plenty of reasons to be excited.
Here’s the point of emphasis: Michigan is replacing NFL talent with guys who have, for the most part, soaked in the culture of success brewed by Jim Harbaugh and his staff for multiple years. Whether it’s Gio El-Hadi on the offensive line, Tyler Morris at receiver or Donovan Edwards choosing to return at running back, a lot of top talent will take the field.
Of course, there’s no expectation the youngsters will be as polished as last year’s squad, but Michigan should improve steadily as the season goes on and land a spot in the expanded playoff.
The biggest X factor next season will be the signal-caller. Right now, the spot is up for grabs. Rising junior Alex Orji and true freshman Jadyn Davis are at the top of the list.
Orji showed his ability as a runner late in the season but has not evolved as a passer. His ceiling is monstrous given his arm talent and athleticism, but we have not seen him show the ability to control offenses yet. If he can learn how to read defenses and move the ball down the field through the air, Michigan might have another NFL-level signal-caller on its hands.
Davis is almost the exact opposite as a prospect. He’s a relatively unimpressive athlete to the naked eye but has football maturity beyond his years. National scouts have applauded Davis for his accuracy, poise and ability to control games from within the structure of an offense. Though he’s generally considered to be outside of the top-five QB prospects nationally this cycle, Davis might be the best option for Michigan if pushed to start next year.
Either way, it will be a new face under center for the Wolverines — and that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. It’s not difficult to win consistently with a roster as talented as Michigan’s in 2023. The hard part is maintaining that success once the stars of yesterday inevitably leave. The ability to keep top talent flowing through the program is what sets Alabama, Georgia and (regrettably) Ohio State apart from the rest of the college football world. The 2024 and 2025 seasons will determine if Michigan will be at the top of college football for good, or if it will fade to a second-tier team once again.