Spring Game 2024: 5 Things to Watch

Spring Game 2024: 5 Things to Watch

April 19, 2024
Alex Orji

Here are five things I’ll be watching in the 2024 spring game:

1. How does Alex Orji throw the ball? Third-year quarterback Alex Orji seems to be the most likely [currently rostered and healthy] guy to start behind center this fall. At 6’3″ and 236 lbs., we know he can run. We saw him do it at various times during the championship run in 2023. What we didn’t see at all in 2023 is Orji passing the ball. Footwork, accuracy, and touch are all in question. I don’t expect to see him run the ball a whole lot, because running a QB when they can’t be tackled is kind of unfair and boring. If/when he has time to throw, how does he look? Can he feather the ball or does he just throw it on a line? Does he get his feet lined up properly to throw, or are they all over the place? What we see might indicate whether Michigan needs to dip into the portal for a potential starter in the fall.

2. Who’s the “other” corner? We know Will Johnson has one cornerback spot locked down for this fall. If a currently rostered player wins the job across from him, it will likely be either Jyaire Hill or D.J. Waller. Waller got more playing time in the fall, but when Hill enrolled early last spring and was flying around, I thought he looked like a potential future star. Michigan still might look to the transfer portal to help out at a fairly thin position, but it would still be nice to see progress from Hill and Waller.

Hit the jump for more.

3. Who’s next at running back? It seems likely that Donovan Edwards and Kalel Mullings will be the 1-2 punch at running back this fall, but Benjamin Hall was the breakout star of the 2023 spring game. Hall (15 carries, 69 yards) didn’t play much in 2023, but with Corum gone and Edwards/Mullings pretty much certain to depart after 2024, there’s going to be room for someone to stake his claim for the job in 2025. If Hall has added some quickness and improved his conditioning, he could get a head start over the likes of 2024 signees Micah Ka’apana and Jordan Marshall. There’s a long way to go before 2025, but this could give us an inkling.

4. What does Jaishawn Barham look like in a Michigan uniform? Maryland transfer linebacker Jaishawn Barham has reportedly stepped right in at middle linebacker and looks like a stud. He’s 6’3″ and 248 pounds, and reports out of practice indicate he’s making plays from sideline to sideline. I think he has the potential to be even better than Junior Colson, whom some NFL draft analysts believe could be the #1 linebacker taken in the 2024 draft. I think speed will be important for this linebacker group, because defensive tackles Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham are so good that teams are going to have to try to get outside if they want to move the ball.

5. How do the Year 2 players look after a year in the S&C program? Freshmen usually look a little soft and/or gangly, but there are a lot of players in their second year who could play significant roles in 2024. I’ve already mentioned RB Benjamin Hall, CB Jyaire Hill, and CB D.J. Waller. But some other sophomores/redshirt freshmen who could play key roles are DE Cameron Brandt, DE/DT Enow Etta, S Brandyn Hillman, WR Fred Moore, and TE Deakon Tonielli. Some other young guys like OG Amir Herring, OLB Jason Hewlett, and OT Evan Link have also earned a little bit of practice buzz, but it seems like they might be another year or so away from having a big impact.

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