Defensive line coach Mike Elston is reportedly on the way to Los Angeles to coach the Chargers defensive line under Jim Harbaugh. Elston has been Michigan’s DL coach and recruiting coordinator since being hired away from Notre Dame prior to the 2022 season.
Elston is a former Michigan player who had some great success securing commitments from some quality defensive linemen and helping develop some players into studs, including Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant. Even guys like Rayshaun Benny and Cam Goode showed solid improvement in 2023, not to mention edge defenders like Jaylen Harrell, Josaiah Stewart, and Derrick Moore.
The rumor mill has been going about Elston, who reportedly has had an offer on the table from the Chargers for a while but was still out on the road recruiting for Michigan recently. The hope was that he would stay on board to keep recruiting and help Sherrone Moore transition into the next era of Michigan football. Unfortunately, that seems not to be the case.
This is a big loss for Michigan. Not bigger than Harbaugh. Not bigger than Jesse Minter. And probably not bigger than Herbert. But it’s a significant blow to a program whose identity has been built in the trenches, both on offense and defense. It was Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo setting the tone in 2021 – which was admittedly pre-Elston – and then Mazi Smith, Graham, Grant, Harrell, and others in 2022 and 2023. The interior pass rush improved in 2023, which made up for the fact that Michigan didn’t have truly elite rushers coming off the edge. Now you really have to wonder how strong the pull will be for guys to enter the transfer portal if they’re losing their head coach, their defensive line coach, and their strength coach while also being tampered with and offered hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The lone defensive holdout on the staff is co-defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale, who seems to be an option as defensive coordinator . . . but could also follow Harbaugh to the Chargers. Meanwhile, Michigan is reportedly also pursuing Kansas City Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen, former Baltimore Ravens/New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, and New York Giants inside linebackers coach John Egorugwu, among others.
The current coaching staff as things stand today:
- HC: Sherrone Moore
- OC/QB: Kirk Campbell
- RB: Mike Hart
- WR: Ronald Bellamy
- TE: Steve Casula
- OL: Grant Newsome
- DC: ???
- DL: ???
- LB: ???
- CB: Steve Clinkscale
- STC: J.B. Brown
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