Name: Evan Link Height: 6’6″ Weight: 305 lbs. High school: Washington (DC) Gonzaga Position: Offensive tackle Class: Freshman Jersey number: N/A Last year: Link was a senior in high school (LINK). TTB Rating: 72
Link committed to Michigan on August 1, 2022, and signed with the Wolverines in December. His recruiting profiles listed him at about 290 pounds, although MGoBlue’s website puts him at 305. Anyway, usually those listings are overshot – just look at all the sophomores and redshirt freshmen who lose an inch and a chunk of weight between years one and two – and it takes a couple years for linemen to develop their bodies.
Link also seems to have very few highlights of pass protection, which probably means he either played in a run-heavy offense . . . or he just doesn’t have much good to show off in pass pro. While I’m not questioning his athleticism – he’s a pretty good athlete – pass protection issues can get people hurt. Furthermore, Michigan has a ton of depth on the offensive line and shouldn’t need true freshmen to play.
REASON FOR THE GRADE: Despite losing just two players to the NFL, the starting offensive line appeared to be in pretty good shape going into 2023. Of course, having a good offensive line is typically predicated on experience, so we have to look at what players are behind them and how ready they will be in 2024 and beyond. Michigan’s numbers were solid enough that they didn’t have to snag too many linemen in the class of 2023 to maintain a healthy overall number at the position (~15), but they hit it out of the park in the transfer portal, if not the high school ranks.
Starting with the transfer portal guys, Michigan landed Arizona State offensive guard/tackle LaDarius Henderson, Stanford center Drake Nugent, and Stanford right tackle Myles Hinton. All three are starters, and in particular, Henderson was a captain and Nugent was a Rimington Award finalist. While offensive guards Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter return, Henderson could end up playing left or right tackle, depending on who steps up at those positions. Nugent should slot in as the starting center, and Hinton will probably be in a battle to start at one of the tackle spots, as injuries and inconsistency have hampered him a little bit so far. However, Hinton was a top-100 prospect and has great potential if he can put everything together.
Link improved as a senior to the point where I think he can be a solid player at the next level, especially in the run game; he has limited pass pro reps on his senior highlights, but there’s potential if he can stay consistent with his technique. Efobi still plays too high for my liking, and he doesn’t really win enough blocks even on his highlights. Meanwhile, interior lineman Herring could play guard or center – some think center is his best spot because of a lack of height – and is the type of kid who should be a good locker room presence while he waits for his opportunity for a few years, and he could step in as an upperclassman and start for a couple years.
Overall, Michigan did a good job of not only plugging a hole at center, but creating immediate competition at the tackle positions. Link, Herring, and Efobi are all guys with potential down the road, though I don’t think any of them are headed for stardom in college. If the Wolverines can maintain their solid offensive line play and use the transfer portal to their advantage on a yearly basis, this could be a recipe for great annual success even if the high school recruiting is so-so.