Name: Michael Barrett Height: 6’0″ Weight: 233 lbs. High school: Valdosta (GA) Lowndes Position: Linebacker Class: Fifth year senior Jersey number: #23 Last year: I ranked Barrett #20 and said he would be a starting inside linebacker (LINK). He made 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 pass breakup while starting one game. TTB Rating: 82
Barrett is a former high school quarterback, and I love me some quarterbacks. It just seems like when you’re a Division I-caliber athlete with the smarts and leadership to play quarterback, you’re likely to figure it out at the next level. But the switch from defensive coordinator Don Brown to Mike Macdonald didn’t bode well for the former hybrid linebacker/safety, and now the move to Jesse Minter doesn’t seem any better, since he coaches the same system as Macdonald.
Michigan will probably play more of a true nickel safety rather than a linebacker, and anyway, Barrett has added six pounds since last year and is playing more inside linebacker. He appears to be the #3 guy at inside linebacker behind Junior Colson and Nikhai Hill-Green. I would expect him to play special teams, too, where he has been valuable over the past few years.
Prediction: Backup inside linebacker, special teamer
With spring practice starting next week, I think it’s time to look at what position changes might occur to benefit the team. With a lot of pieces remaining the same on offense and a similar scheme on defense, we generally know what type of systems we’ll see on each side. It’s more of a question about which players might slide around a little bit to fill some holes.
Mike Barrett (RS Sr.): OLB —> ILB Barrett is a former starting Viper in 2020 under former defensive coordinator Don Brown, but that spot was largely eliminated early in 2021 when Michigan played Daxton Hill at the slot corner position. Barrett didn’t play much early in 2021 until defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald was forced to make some adjustments. He started just one game last year and made 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 pass breakup on the year. Now with middle linebacker Josh Ross headed to the NFL, Michigan loses a leader in the middle but returns a freshman All-American in Junior Colson at the other inside linebacker spot. While Nikhai Hill-Green also returns, I think Barrett and Colson are the two most productive linebackers; Hill-Green played okay but his youth showed with some missed reads and false steps. Plus if Barrett is going to have a minuscule role, I’m not sure he can be convinced to stick around for a fifth year. I think Barrett is enough of a well rounded athlete that he’s worth keeping around, and his speed and athleticism could be a plus if the defensive linemen and the scheme can keep him clean.
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Eat your vitamins. My biggest takeaway from this game is that Michigan needs to get healthy. Going into the game, Michigan was missing RB Donovan Edwards and TE Erick All. And here are the players who got injured during the game: QB Cade McNamara (lower body), RB Blake Corum (lower leg), CB Gemon Green (shoulder), WR Andrel Anthony (unknown). Luckily, the Wolverines had a big enough advantage in this game that it ended up not affecting the outcome, but the toughest stretch of the schedule is coming up, with Penn State next week and Ohio State in three weeks.
Name: Michael Barrett Height: 6’0″ Weight: 227 lbs. High school: Valdosta (GA) Lowndes Position: Linebacker Class: Redshirt junior Jersey number: #23 Last year: I ranked Barrett #22 and said he would be the starting Viper (LINK). He made 44 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 1 quarterback hurry. TTB Rating: 82
Barrett has made quite a transition, going from high school quarterback to Viper (outside linebacker) for the past couple seasons at Michigan. Generally considered to be an athlete coming out of high school (he spent time at RB, slot receiver, and LB to start his college career), he eventually settled in where most people expected him, playing Viper. After watching Khaleke Hudson man the position for a couple seasons, Barrett stepped in and had a decent campaign. His Minnesota game was outstanding, including a strip sack that resulted in a Donovan Jeter touchdown and a 64-yard kickoff return. Unfortunately, his impact was somewhat negated afterward, notching just 0.5 tackles for loss for the final five games of the year. He did pile up some tackles in a couple games – making 11 twice – but those tackles were downfield for a struggling defense.
Barrett’s role in 2021 is very intriguing. Most insiders have him starting at one of the inside linebacker spots (early reports said MIKE linebacker, but more recently I have seen talk that he’s playing WILL). At the same time, there’s more buzz surrounding Nikhai Hill-Green, a second-year player. Barrett is a bit of an odd fit at inside linebacker with his (lack of) size, and the fear is that the former safety/linebacker hybrid might get run over. I have Barrett penciled in as a starter because of his experience, leadership, and athleticism, but the coaches might give Hill-Green a shot if Barrett struggles early.