Redshirt freshman Damani Dent has entered the transfer portal.
Dent spent a chunk of 2022 away from the team and returned late in the year, but he never set foot on the field. The Jacksonville (FL) Terry Parker product was a Jim Harbaugh favorite as part of the recruiting class, but perhaps he did not see a path to playing time. I gave him a TTB Rating of 82 by the spring of 2022 after seeing his senior highlights, but he was a 3-star, the #65 safety, and #778 overall in his recruiting class.
Michigan lost both Dent and R.J. Moten (LINK) from the safety depth chart within a week, so that must mean good things about some of the young safeties on the roster, like Zeke Berry and Keon Sabb. This fall’s expected starters are junior Rod Moore and redshirt junior Makari Paige. I recently ranked Dent #132 in the 2023 Season Countdown because I did not expect him to play much this fall (LINK).
Dent is the second member of the class of 2022 to hit the transfer portal, following linebacker Deuce Spurlock (LINK), who transferred to Florida.
Former starting linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green will be playing his fourth season elsewhere after entering the transfer portal.
Hill-Green signed as part of the class of 2020 and is now the eleventh player from that class to have transferred, including the third today after A.J. Henning (LINK) and safety R.J. Moten (LINK). I gave him a TTB Rating of 74 when he committed (LINK). He was a 3-star, the #25 outside linebacker, and #393 overall in his class.
Hill-Green played in three games as a freshman in 2020 and then started six games in 2021, making 50 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup in his second year. However, his 2022 season was a wash due to injury, and he was in a battle with several other players for playing time in 2023, including incumbent Michael Barrett, up-and-comer Jimmy Rolder, and Nebraska transfer Ernest Hausmann.
It would not be surprising to see Hill-Green follow his former high school head coach at Baltimore (MD) St. Frances to Charlotte, where Biff Poggi is the new head coach.
Rising redshirt junior safety R.J. Moten is transferring out of Michigan.
I gave Moten a TTB Rating of 68 when he committed in July of 2019 (LINK) and compared him to former Wolverine Josh Furman, who finished his career at Oklahoma State. Moten was also a high-level baseball prospect but decided to pursue football instead.
Moten played in just one game in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Altogether, he played in 29 career games, including five starts in 2021 and ten more in 2022. He managed 65 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 4 pass breakups, and 1 interception during his career. So Michigan is essentially losing a starter, even though Makari Paige kind of usurped the starting safety job toward the end of 2022. When Michigan was missing some linebacker depth toward the end of 2022, the coaching staff practiced Moten at linebacker during bowl prep for the TCU game, thinking he might be able to play in case of emergency.
Moten is the tenth member of the class of 2020 to depart, and the second of the day, along with wide receiver A.J. Henning (LINK). Michigan also landed an amazingly alliterative trio of safety/linebacker hybrids in 2020 with Moten, Jordan Morant, and William Mohan, and all three have now transferred (Morant to Duke/Mississippi State, Mohan to Tennessee before being dismissed).
Presumably, the two safety starters are now Rod Moore and Makari Paige, with Keon Sabb and Zeke Berry also looking like promising players for the future.
Rising senior wide receiver A.J. Henning is entering the transfer portal. A class of 2020 signee, he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
I missed on Henning when I gave him a TTB Rating of 89 (LINK), making a comparison to Jeremy Gallon. The recruiting services also seem to have missed on him so far, ranking him as a 4-star, the #18 wide receiver, and #102 overall in the 247 Composite. He still has a couple seasons to reach that level, but he hasn’t shown a ton so far outside of a couple big plays against MAC-level teams. In fact, I wrote about him back in December as someone to look out for as a potential early departure (LINK).
Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, and others pursued Henning out of Frankfort (IL) Lincoln-Way East, but the Wolverines won that recruiting battle. He made a minimal impact in 2020 with just 9 touches, but he showed promise in 2021 when he ran 9 times for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns – including a memorable end around for a TD against Ohio State – and caught 10 passes for 79 yards. But his offensive usage tailed off in 2022, when he tallied just 12 offensive touches (9 catches, 3 carries); his most memorable moment of his final season was a punt return touchdown against UConn.
Where Henning’s departure will be felt most is on special teams, where he returned 28 punts for 201 yards (7.2 yards/return) and the 1 touchdown; he also returned 11 kickoffs for 241 yards (21.9 yards/return). But in general, that type of production is replaceable. In fact, no leading kick returner in the Jim Harbaugh era has had a lower average except Ambry Thomas in 2017-2018, and Henning had the lowest punt return average of anyone in that span, too.
So, in other words, I don’t think Henning is a terrible player . . . but this might end up being addition by subtraction overall. All other punt returners (Ronnie Bell, D.J. Turner II) are headed to the NFL, so somebody brand new will be returning punts. Meanwhile, Roman Wilson averaged 22.8 yards/return on kickoff returns, so he might be a candidate to return kicks, along with freshman running back Cole Cabana, sophomore running back C.J. Stokes, and others.
Henning is the ninth member of the 2020 class to depart, joining CB Darion Green-Warren (Nevada), DE Aaron Lewis (Rutgers), LB William Mohan (Tennessee), S Jordan Morant (Mississippi State), LB Osman Savage (Alabama A&M), CB Andre Seldon, Jr. (New Mexico State), QB Dan Villari (Syracuse), and LB Cornell Wheeler (Kansas)
During the season, I like to keep readers updated on what’s happening with former commits, players, and head coaches. But there’s not enough time – and it’s frankly not interesting enough – to keep up with all the former assistant coaches who are assistants elsewhere. So in the off-season, I like to do a little catching up on where former coaches are now. I am also including in this rundown a look at where some former Michigan players are now coaching, mostly in the college and professional ranks.
Joe Bolden (Special Teams Coordinator/Defensive Assistant, Tulsa): Bolden spent one year as OLB coach and special teams coordinator for the Nevada Wolfpack and is now in a similar role at Tulsa, though he’s only listed as a “defensive assistant” and special teams coordinator.
Don Brown (Head Coach, UMass): Brown went 1-11 in the first season of his second stint as the head coach at UMass.
Anthony Campanile (Linebackers Coach, Miami Dolphins): Campanile is heading into his fourth year as the Dolphins’ linebackers coach.
Ross Douglas (Assistant Wide Receivers Coach, New England Patriots): Douglas is going into his second year as an assistant wide receivers coach for the Patriots.