Goodbye, Mike Danna

Goodbye, Mike Danna

February 19, 2020
Mike Danna (image via Toledo Blade)

Danna attended Warren (MI) De La Salle, where he was a 3-star prospect, the #95 weakside end, and #2005 overall. He was a part of the 2015 class, and Michigan did not offer him. In fact, the only school 247 lists as offering him was Central Michigan, and that’s where he went for the first four years of his career. I remember him from high school, and he was just a guy. I mean, a good high school player, but not someone who jumps out at you. I mean, what kind of impact defensive lineman wears #73 in high school?

Hit the jump for more.

Mike Danna at CMU (#7, image via CMU)

After redshirting as a freshman, Danna made 31 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in 2016 while making just one start. He started only three games in 2017, but he made 54 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 5 quarterback hurries. He finally became a full-time starer in 2018 and responded with 66 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 7 quarterback hurries, and 3 forced fumbles. He was a Pro Football Focus All-American, but he wanted a chance to prove himself on a bigger stage, so he grad transferred to Michigan in 2019. However, he was a backup and made 38 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries, and 1 forced fumble.

At CMU: 151 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries (for 128 yards and 2 TD), 1 pass breakup
At Michigan: 38 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries, 1 forced fumble
Total: 189 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries (for 128 yards and 2 TD), 16 quarterback hurries, 1 pass breakup

Pro Football Focus All-American (2018 at CMU)
Herb Deromedi Team MVP (2018 at CMU)
First Team All-MAC (2018)

Danna can be proud of everything he accomplished in college. He was lightly recruited as a 6’2″, 230 lb. kid who wasn’t particularly explosive, and he improved every year in college. He used his MAC experience to springboard himself from being a big fish in a small pond to a medium-sized fish in a big pond. He didn’t make a profound impact while at Michigan, but he did make some nice plays and seemed to get stronger as the season went along, which makes sense for someone adjusting to a new system in year one.

…transferring in and actually making an impact. In recent years Michigan has had some guys transfer in and do very little, such as Wayne Lyons and Casey Hughes. (Hughes did so little at Michigan that I, a Michigan blogger, had to look up his name.) Some guys go from being starters at one school – even Power 5 schools – to doing diddly squat in a Michigan uniform. Danna was a heavily used rotation player, and while he wasn’t a starter, he was #1 among backups at any position in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks, essentially making him Michigan’s 12th man.

Based on his Senior Bowl performance, I assumed Danna would get an invitation to the NFL Combine. (Maybe I’m guilty of wearing maize-and-blue-colored glasses, because I thought Jordan Glasgow would, too.) He got positive reviews during practices and played relentlessly in the game. At 6’2″ and 260 pounds, I do think Danna is a little too much of a tweener to be highly enticing. He’s not quick enough to be an explosive edge rusher, and he’s not big enough to be a run-stuffer. I’ve seen worse players get drafted, but it’s also not often that someone gets drafted after spending the previous season as a backup. I can’t realistically forecast that Danna will get drafted, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he impresses at Michigan’s pro day and slips into the 6th or 7th round. If not, he should be near the top of every team’s UDFA list to call as soon as the draft is completed.


  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1784
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Feb 19, 2020 at 8:11 AM

    So glad we got Danna. You’re right about him not being high-impact, but for a one year rental, I think the program for the better end of the deal

    Best of luck to this young man; I hope we continue to look for depth & experience in the portal

    • GKblue
      Comments: 347
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Feb 19, 2020 at 8:30 AM

      Ditto Je93. Danna did more than most expected of him, and we sorely needed someone to augment our DL.

      Thunder, “I mean, what kind of impact defensive lineman wears #73 in high school?” You made me think about how numbering schemes have changed over the years. To me it’s still a little weird to see a single digit on the DL.

      I remember as a soph on the varsity in high school the coaches tossed me a jersey. No choice of number, no real positional assignment, the school had little to choose from.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 5873
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Feb 19, 2020 at 1:22 PM

    No question. He made an extremely valuable contribution to the 2019 team. DL depth was badly needed and Danna delivered it. His versatility was aided by his experience and character.

    I hope Michigan continues to use grad transfers to fill needs like this. Getting so much production while only using 1 year of scholarship is exceptional value. This lets Michigan use more scholarships on higher upside recruits that might take a while to develop into productive players. Examples include tall skinny OTs, athletes working through position changes, and manufacturing athleticism through physical development – shifting defenders from DB to LB (Hudson), LB to DE (Winovich) and DE to DT (Wormley).

    A few years ago people were saying grad transfers only made sense for QBs but it’s clear it’s much more than that. As grad transfers become increasingly common, I hope to see Michigan be aggressive in finding contributors like Danna.

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