Why new Michigan LB Jaishawn Barham is the perfect fit for Wink Martindale

New Michigan transfer linebacker Jaishawn Barham might know the future or just be really lucky. Either way, the kid has landed in the perfect spot after transferring from Maryland.

See, when Barham committed to Michigan he had no way of knowing Jesse Minter would be leaving and Wink Martindale would join the Wolverines and call the defense. In the grand scheme of things, the difference between Minter and Martindale isn’t extreme. Both run the same basic system, but Martindale blitzes the absolute snot out of his linebackers while Minter is a tad more conservative.

That is where Barnham fits like the last piece of a puzzle. Barham was a top 120 recruit in the 2022 cycle. He was heralded for his size (listed at 6-foot-4, 233 pounds at Maryland) and ability to play outside or inside.

At Maryland, Barham played mostly as a traditional middle linebacker but also utilized heavily as a blitzer. He even lined up as an edge defender on occasion. He’s no Micah Parsons, but with seven sacks to his name through two seasons of football, he understands how to get to the quarterback.

Martindale is famous for a particular defensive front that involves using three defensive linemen to cover up both guards and the center while sitting two edge defenders just outside of the tackles. Barham’s versatility as an edge-linebacker hybrid means that Michigan can run this front without substituting from their base personnel. Kenneth Grant will hulk over the center, Mason Graham and Derrick Moore will work the guards, and Josaiah Stewart and Barham will be the edge defenders.

This alignment would leave Ernest Hausmann as the lone linebacker, but he is more than capable of shifting through traffic and making a tackle in a crowd.

Being able to shift into this formation without substituting is a huge tactical advantage. As many Wolverine fans are aware, Ohio State invested a lot of resources into the run game this offseason and will likely attack on the ground more effectively than in seasons past. If the Buckeyes start to move the ball against the traditional 4-2-5 package, Michigan can adjust its run-stopping front without needing to hustle any players off the field. That plays as a terrific counter to what is usually an advantage in the offense’s favor.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire