A spring position switch for Michigan football that could be a real fall possibility

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After spring ball had concluded, Jim Harbaugh went on the ‘In The Trenches’ podcast with Jon Jansen, and shared that third-year linebacker Kalel Mullings has really looked good playing on the defensive side of the ball.

“A linebacker that really elevated his game,” Harbaugh said. “He was playing with a cast a lot of the time last year — the whole time, the whole season last season. Had surgery on his hand and — but now that’s off. His ability to strike people and not have that pain or cringe has really elevated his game.”

But, that’s not the only place we saw him in the spring game.

In something of a surprise, Mullings was in the offensive backfield, getting carries as a running back — the position he played primarily in high school — and he looked good doing it. Though much of the discussion of who the third back will be in this year’s offense, now that Hassan Haskins has departed, has been centered on Tavierre Dunlap, Leon Franklin, and incoming freshman C.J. Stokes, Harbaugh can see a future for Mullings as running back.

“I moved Kalel Mullings to running back and linebacker — he’s now a two-way player. He looked real good and looked real good in practice. The amount of knowing the plays and the offense will develop as he goes. Could be Tavi, could be Kalel Mullings that replaces a lot of the carries that Hassan Haskins had.”

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Mullings isn’t the only player who’s seen the field on both sides of the ball, as Mike Sainristil is in the discussion for starting cornerback — likely at nickel. And Harbaugh has a solid history of having his players switch positions with great success — the most notable being Richard Sherman, who was a wide receiver at Stanford before Harbaugh tried him out on the defensive side of the ball.

Harbaugh shared what makes players good at moving to other positions, what he looks out for, and why Mullings could potentially be another great two-way player.

“There’s definitely an intelligence of learning two playbooks. Also that they’re driven to do it, that they’re willing to do it, that they’re embracing that wholeheartedly. When those two factors, along with the skill set show up, then I do it. Those are really the three factors that have to line up for me to do that. Also, I feel good about having the eye to do that. Something I’m always looking at. I’m always trying to find that type of player who can do that.

“Kalel somewhat makes it a little easier. I’m not going to take any deep, long bows for that. He was really more of an offensive player when he was in high school. Kick returner, running back. His arrow is way up at linebacker, too, now. He had a really good spring at linebacker, too now. He’s got the willingness, he’s got the intelligence. He’s got the skill set to be a two-way player.”

List

Everything Jim Harbaugh said about Michigan football and the offense in spring ball