Five Michigan football youngsters ready to step up

Michigan ended the 2023 season by ending a multi-decade championship drought, but it must quickly look to the future in the ever-changing modern landscape of college football.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the program. Harbaugh is interviewing with NFL teams. Almost 20 players have declared for the draft, and Michigan still seems unable to generate enough name, image and likeness funding to capitalize on the success of the past three years.

There are many question marks on the roster. Many key pieces from last year rightfully chose to move on to the NFL, leaving a much different roster. This list looks at five players who did not play a major role last season that might be called upon in 2024.

Giovanni El-Hadi, IOL

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

It feels like many people close to the program have been excited for El-Hadi to start. He’s been waiting his turn for years behind Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter, but now is finally his time to slide in at guard.

El-Hadi has impressed when he’s been on the field. He started three games as a sophomore in 2022 against Maryland, Nebraska and Illinois and played admirably, but mostly rode the bench in 2023. He sprinkled in during blowouts (a fair amount of games) but will be bumped to the top of the chart in 2024.

Of course, expectations are that El-Hadi is a quality starter. The former four-star recruit out of Sterling Heights, Michigan, was the 88th player nationally on the 247Sports composite. There’s little projection with this one, El-Hadi might even be the team’s top offensive lineman over course of the season. He probably will declare for the draft, and could see his stock skyrocket as high as the second round.

Benjamin Hall, RB

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

Hall was a little bit of a sleeper in the recruiting rankings, but Michigan seems excited about the youngster’s future.

Hall was the 787th player nationally on the 247Sports composite, but he showed out during the spring game and was rewarded with 15 touches during the season. Hall is a bigger back (5 feet, 11 inches, 234 pounds) and should be able to take some of the short yardage work that Corum excelled at. Many are saying Mullings is the easy pick to backup Edwards, but the former linebacker has ball security issues and doesn’t have the vision needed to play the position. I predict Mullings will get some run early, but Hall will overtake him as the season progresses.

There’s also a star incoming freshman. Jordan Marshall could probably take touches as true freshman as well. The running back room is stocked with depth behind Edwards, it’s just a matter of time before someone stakes their claim as RB2.

Jyaire Hill, CB

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

Hill was one of the biggest recruiting lands in 2023 as a top 200 prospect according to the 247Sports composite.

He has boundary size, 6 feet, 2 inches and 181 pounds, and has excellent change of direction abilities. Michigan returns superstar Will Johnson who will obviously man one boundary spot, but the other side of the field is wide open as of now. Hill should compete with another sophomore, DJ Waller, but I predict Hill will prevail.

There are rumors Michigan is looking into the portal here, but I’m not convinced due to the inactivity in the portal so far. Cornerbacks are expensive, and I’m not sure there’s a realistic target out there who is clearly better than the youth in-house. I predict Hill will win the job and perform admirably.

Cam Brandt, Edge

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

Similar to Jyaire Hill, there is a lack of proven talent on the roster at edge. Braiden McGregor declared for the draft, which left Derrick Moore as the only player with meaningful time as a large edge defender.

Brandt impressed the staff behind the scenes as a freshman and is the most likely candidate to take over as backup. He stands at 6 feet, 4 inches, 277 pounds, and he played extensively on special teams in 2023. Once again, the portal is an option here, but Michigan has not been publicly linked to any targets so this seems unlikely at the moment.

Michigan rotates its defensive line a great deal. Brandt will not get the same playing time McGregor did, but he will be a consistent factor in the defense. Enow Etta is the other youngster on the rise at this position, but Brandt was publicly praised by the staff.

Fredrick Moore, WR

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

Michigan is losing Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson to the NFL. Semaj Morgan and Tyler Morris are the obvious answers to take over, but they play similar roles.

Darrius Clemons hit the transfer portal, which leaves Fred Moore as the only receiver over 6-feet in contention for the ”X’ role on offense. Moore had just two catches in 2023 but will have a clear path to the field next season to take over for Cornelius Johnson. Morris will probably be WR1 with Semaj as the second option, but look for Moore to emerge as a different type of player who can use size as an advantage.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire