Where ESPN ranks Michigan’s defense in future power rankings

·3 min read

Michigan had the fourth-ranked scoring defense last year in the nation only allowing 16.1 points-per-game, which was a massive jump from 2020 when it allowed 34.5 points-per-game.

It’s no surprise that Adam Rittenberg from ESPN is high on the Wolverines’ defense going into the 2022 season and beyond. Rittenberg put out an article ranking the top 25 defense for the next three seasons. He put into consideration the current roster, recruits coming in, and transfers among other variables.

Last year when he did this, he had Michigan ranked 24th, but now the Wolverines are his 10th best defense going into the next three seasons. Here is what Rittenberg had to say about the maize and blue.

10. Michigan Wolverines

2021 future defense ranking: 24

Scouting the Wolverines: Michigan’s defense earned a substantial jump in the rankings after helping the team to its first outright Big Ten title since 2003 and first-ever CFP appearance. The question is whether the unit can sustain and avoid a drop-off after losing standouts such as Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s NFL draft, fellow end David Ojabo, safety Dax Hill, linebacker Josh Ross and others. Michigan also has a new coordinator in Jesse Minter, although he will run essentially the same system as predecessor Mike Macdonald. The long-term outlook remains strong, but Michigan has a lot to address this fall, and will lean on players such as sophomore linebackers Junior Colson and Nikhai Hill-Green, veteran cornerbacks D.J. Turner and Gemon Green, and safety R.J. Moten. Linebacker should be the most stable spot if Michigan can build around Colson and Hill-Green with players such as senior Michael Barrett and junior Kalel Mullings. The team also has a commitment from Raylen Wilson, ESPN’s No. 5 outside linebacker and No. 56 overall recruit in the 2023 class.

The line revamp will get most of the immediate focus. The interior depth projects well with seniors Mazi Smith, junior Kris Jenkins and promising young players such as freshman Mason Graham. Senior ends Mike Morris and Taylor Upshaw will see their playing time increase with Hutchinson and Ojabo gone. Michigan needs others, such as sophomore Jaylen Harrell and junior Braiden McGregor, the team’s top recruit in 2020, to emerge this fall and beyond. The addition of Derrick Moore, ESPN’s No. 4 end and No. 22 recruit for 2022, improves the long-term forecast. Green and Turner stabilize the cornerback position, but much of the intrigue will be on newcomers, including Mike Sainristil, the veteran wide receiver who worked as a defensive back this spring. Michigan added Will Johnson, ESPN’s No. 4 cornerback and No. 23 overall recruit in the 2022 class. Redshirt freshman Ja’Den McBurrows, who missed spring practice following surgery, should add depth. Safeties R.J. Moten and Rod Moore both have multiple years of eligibility left, as do Quinten Johnson, Caden Kolesar and Makari Paige.

Clemson was the top-ranked defense on the list, and Rittenberg had five Big Ten teams ranked.

List

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