Potential Departure Candidates: Offense

Potential Departure Candidates: Offense

December 9, 2022
Tavierre Dunlap

With the onslaught of transfer portal entries in college football, it’s inevitable that Michigan will face some more departures this off-season. Three players have already announced their intentions to transfer, and one (Cade McNamara to Iowa) has already found a landing spot. Tight ends Erick All and Louis Hansen are both headed for, ahem, greener pastures.

McNamara and All are both somewhat unique cases of players who played a lot but felt slighted in some way, but Hansen is a more typical case of a player buried on the depth chart who wants to see some light at the end of the tunnel. This post explores several players in similar situations who may find greener pastures elsewhere:

DISCLAIMER: This post is speculative in nature and not intended to encourage/discourage any player from leaving Michigan’s program. The reality is that college football is now a lot like unrestricted free agency from year to year.

Why he should stay: Every Michigan starting running back during his tenure has turned in a 1,000+ yard season, but they had to wait three or more years to do it. Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum have both turned in star performances after waiting their turn. Dunlap has done well when given a chance, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Why he might leave: Opportunities are limited when you’re the third string back or lower, and there’s no reason to expect much of a change in scenery for 2023. While Corum is likely headed to the NFL, Donovan Edwards is a bona fide star in the making and freshman C.J. Stokes already has many more carries (55) in one season than Dunlap has in two (16), and walk-on Isaiah Gash (19 carries, 101 yards, 2 touchdowns) even topped Dunlap in touches. When it came to the Big Ten championship game and Ohio State, Michigan decided to use a big back at times . . . but that back was the 6’2″, 232 lb. backup linebacker Kalel Mullings instead of Dunlap (6’0″, 217).

Hit the jump for more.

Why he should stay: There may be departures this off-season from the wide receiver group. Cornelius Johnson and Ronnie Bell are probably headed to the NFL, and those are the top two wideouts. Roman Wilson and Andrel Anthony have combined for just 27 catches this season and have not proven they can be #1 guys, but even if they do step up, there will be a void as complementary pieces.
Why he might leave: Dixon played in just one game in 2022 and has 1 catch for 7 yards in two seasons at Michigan. The wide receiver group suffered some injuries over the past couple seasons to Bell and Wilson, but Dixon was never the next guy in. In fact, he saw freshmen like Amorion Walker and Darrius Clemons shoot past him on the depth chart.

Why he should stay: Just like Dixon, there are going to be changes in the wide receiver room in 2023 and chances for other receivers to step up, play more, and produce. Michigan is losing five (5!!!) playable tight ends from the 2022 unit in All, Hansen, Joel Honigford, Luke Schoonmaker, and Carter Selzer; perhaps one effect of having a less experienced tight end group would be to play more slot receivers next season. Henning also seems to have a pretty solid stranglehold on the punt return job (26 returns, 185 yards, 1 touchdown) and led the team in kickoff returns (8 returns, 163 yards).
Why he might leave: Henning had just 10 total offensive touches in 2022, including just 2 (1 rush, 1 catch) after week six. That came after having 19 offensive touches in 2021. His offensive role was cut in half from year two to year three. Also, the kickoff return job mainly belonged to Wilson whenever Wilson was healthy.

Why he should stay: Michigan won the Joe Moore Award for college football’s best offensive line in 2021, and they’re one of two finalists in 2022. In other words, the coaching is proving to be outstanding. With left tackle Ryan Hayes moving on to the NFL after this season, there is an open starting spot available.
Why he might leave: Michigan almost has too many quality offensive linemen to keep them all happy. The expectation appears to be that Karsen Barnhart – who has been Michigan’s sixth lineman for a couple years – will slide into Hayes’s role at left tackle, and a healthy Trente Jones will return to start at right tackle in 2023. Meanwhile, Michigan got a commitment from Arizona State transfer LaDarius Jefferson – who could play guard or tackle – and they like what Giovanni El-Hadi and Andrew Gentry have to offer. Even if guards Zak Zinter and Trevor Keegan both opt for the NFL, Michigan has five starter-quality players in Barnhart, El-Hadi, Henderson, Jones, and center Greg Crippen. (There are also rumors that Michigan is looking at Stanford transfer Myles Hinton as a potential addition on the offensive line.) As a fourth-year player, does Persi want to sit around waiting for an injury or does he want to go somewhere else and potentially start for the next two seasons?

Why he should stay: Ditto on what I said about Persi above in regards to the quality of the coaching. Also, Zinter and/or Keegan could be departing for the NFL, which would open up both guard spots.
Why he might leave: There’s been no real indication that Atteberry is being groomed to play. He played in eight games in 2021 but just three in 2022. Even when Michigan went through some injury issues with Hayes, Jones, and Keegan, Michigan chose not to throw Atteberry in there. As strictly an interior lineman, he appears to have been passed up by El-Hadi and Crippen, not to mention the incoming Henderson. He seems like a player who probably would have moved into a starting spot for Michigan’s offensive lines of the early- to mid-2010s, but now the position group is loaded with talent.

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