The Front Five: Things you should know about Michigan football offensive line entering 2023

Fall camp has concluded, and we’ve officially entered game week in Ann Arbor. There are just five more days until the Wolverines hit the field against the East Carolina Pirates.

On paper, the Wolverines are loaded on the offensive side of the ball and in order to reach their maximum potential, it all hinges on a robust attack. Under Sherrone Moore, the Wolverines have won the last two Joe Moore Awards, recognizing them as the best offensive line in the country. They will look to make it three in a row this year. During Big Ten Media Days a little over a month ago, Jim Harbaugh couldn’t contain his excitement, speaking highly of having 10 players capable of being starters on the offensive line.

Key Departures

Photo: Isaiah Hole

However, there are some gaps to fill due to key starters being drafted into the NFL. Former center Olu Oluwatimi was selected in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks, and left tackle Ryan Hayes joined the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round.

Expected Starters

Photo: Isaiah Hole

On a more positive note, right guard Zak Zinter and left guard Trevor Keegan return and are virtually guaranteed to start. Both were also named team captains by their teammates last week.

Ongoing Battles

Photo: Isaiah Hole

With two-fifths of the offensive line already secured, the other three starting positions remain up for grabs. The expectation is that the competition will continue into the regular season, with each player getting an opportunity to start one of the first two games.


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Of the three starting positions, the center spot seems to be the least contested. Drake Nugent, a transfer from Stanford, is believed to be the frontrunner over Greg Crippen. Nugent, who entered fall camp healthy after recovering from a spring injury, has impressed on the practice field and in the weight room. Teammates like Kris Jenkins have described Nugent as ‘a complete freak.’

Left Tackle

Photo: Isaiah Hole

On the left side of the line, Karsen Barnhart and Arizona State transfer LaDarius Henderson are engaged in a heated battle. During fall camp Jim Harbaugh praised Karsen Barnhart for his performance early on in camp. Henderson who joined the team this summer transferred in from Arizona State where he started all 13 games for the Sun Devils at left guard and only allowed just 10 quarterback pressures in the regular season- tied for fourth-fewest among Pac-12 offensive guards in 2021.

Right Tackle

Photo: Isaiah Hole

The right tackle position presents a more open competition on the offensive line. Trente Jones, returning for a fifth season, appeared in nine games and started six of those at right tackle. Stanford transfer Myles Hinton started seven games for the Cardinal last season. Both have experience and seem ready to take the next step into a starter role.

The new-look offensive line will embark on their quest for a third Joe Moore Award this Saturday when they welcome in East Carolina to The Big House.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire