2023 All-Big Ten Selections

Tag: Will Johnson

30Nov 2023
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2023 All-Big Ten Selections

Blake Corum

Michigan dominated the all-conference selections in 2023, which is to be somewhat expected with a 12-0 record.

QB J.J. McCarthy (Coaches, Media)
RB Blake Corum (Coaches, Media)
OL La’Darius Henderson (Coaches)
OL Zak Zinter (Coaches, Media)
C Drake Nugent (Coaches, Media)
TE Colston Loveland (Coaches)
DL Mason Graham (Coaches)
DB Will Johnson (Coaches, Media)
DB Mike Sainristil (Media)

WR Roman Wilson (Coaches, Media)
TE Colston Loveland (Media)
OL Karsen Barnhart (Coaches)
OL La’Darius Henderson (Media)
OL Trevor Keegan (Coaches, Media)
DL Kenneth Grant (Coaches)
DL Kris Jenkins, Jr. (Coaches, Media)
LB Junior Colson (Coaches, Media)
DB Mike Sainristil (Coaches)
K James Turner (Coaches)

OL Karsen Barnhart (Media)
DL Mason Graham (Media)
DL Kenneth Grant (Media)
LB Michael Barrett (Coaches)
DB Rod Moore (Coaches)
P Tommy Doman (Media)

WR Cornelius Johnson (Media)
TE A.J. Barner (Coaches, Media)
DL Jaylen Harrell (Coaches, Media)
DL Braiden McGregor (Coaches, Media)
DL Derrick Moore (Coaches, Media)
DL Josaiah Stewart (Coaches)
LB Michael Barrett (Media)
DB Rod Moore (Media)
DB Makari Paige (Coaches)
DB Josh Wallace (Coaches, Media)
K James Turner (Media)
P Tommy Doman (Media)
RET Semaj Morgan (Coaches, Media)

I believe every single Michigan starter is represented here except FB/TE Max Bredeson (1 start), OL Trente Jones (2 starts), WR Tyler Morris (2 starts), safety Keon Sabb (4 starts). Even a full-time backup in Derrick Moore – who has yet to start a single game – was named Honorable Mention by both the coaches and the media.

Do you see any snubs?

Personally, I think Mike Sainristil should have been 1st team to both coaches/media. Meanwhile, I’m surprised Barnhart was valued so highly since he struggled in pass protection so much, especially over the last three weeks of the season.

5Nov 2023
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Michigan 41, Purdue 13

Blake Corum (image via The Score)

I was a little nervous. Something was gnawing at my brain going into this game, and that was whether Michigan would look sloppy against the Boilermakers in the midst of Sign-gate. I was never nervous about the outcome of the game, but just about whether it would be a tight contest. Maybe something like a 14-10 contest at halftime. Or 17-13 in the third quarter before pulling away. The distraction of Sign-gate combined with the rustiness of coming off a bye week concerned me. So I was glad to see Michigan jump out to a 17-0 lead almost immediately. But the second quarter was boring for Michigan. Michigan was outgained by Purdue, as well as outscored 6-3, sending it to halftime at 20-6.

Hit the jump for more.

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8Oct 2023
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Michigan 52, Minnesota 10

Cornelius Johnson (image via Star Tribune)

Zone coverage FTW. There was a time when we lamented that Michigan defensive backs were terrible at looking back and finding the ball. There were interceptions to be had, but Michigan didn’t, you know, have them. Don Brown had the defensive backs in chase mode all the time, and even though he was really good at his defensive coordinator job – Ohio State be damned – he hated zone defense. In this game a dose of zone coverage was enough to confuse inexperienced Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, and he threw more touchdown passes to Michigan’s guys (Will Johnson, Keon Sabb) than his own. In fact, he completed just 5/15 passes for 52 yards, 35 of which came on the final offensive play of the first half, a virtual Hail Mary that happened to come down in the hands of a diving Daniel Jackson for the Gophers’ only touchdown of the night. That passing total was the fewest amount allowed by Michigan since they allowed 24 against UConn in 2022.

Hit the jump for more.

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31Aug 2023
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2023 Season Predictions

Blake Corum

I feel really good about my predictions for 2023 and I’m nearly certain they’ll all be correct.

Junior running back Blake Corum had 1,463 yards on the ground in 2022. Unless his surgically repaired knee doesn’t hold up, he’s a good bet to lead the team in rushing again, even with the presence of star running back Donovan Edwards. Edwards should get a lot of rushing attempts and might even top 1,000 yards himself (he had 991 last year), but Corum should still be the #1 guy.
Prediction: Blake Corum, 1400 yards

Hit the jump for the rest of the prognostications.

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30Aug 2023
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2023 Season Countdown: #2 Will Johnson

Will Johnson (image via Michigan Daily)

Name: Will Johnson
202 lbs.
High school: 
Grosse Pointe (MI) South
Jersey number: 
Last year: 
I ranked Johnson #34 and said he would be a backup cornerback (LINK). He started five games and made 27 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups.
TTB Rating:

Will Johnson was Michigan’s most anticipated freshman enrollee since way back in . . . oh, 2021, when J.J. McCarthy first arrived on campus.

Okay, that might not be the best angle.

But still, Michigan fans – and coaches – were really looking forward to getting the 5-star corner on campus. The son of a former Michigan defensive back, Johnson had the size, athleticism, and local upbringing that made him a legend before he ever ran out to touch the banner. It took him some time to get that on-field performance on par with the hype, but he made it happen in the Big Ten Championship game.

The build-up to that game really started with his first career start, which took place against Rutgers in early November, peaking with his first career interception, which he returned 29 yards. It culminated with him following around Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones, who had a decent game, but Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O’Connell also threw 2 picks to Johnson. Johnson’s reactions and physicality really seemed to shine in that game and perhaps propelled expectations for him in 2023 to All-American levels.

I’m not so sure that Johnson will be an All-American in 2023, considering sometimes it takes ridiculous – and impossible to predict – interception numbers to earn that honor. Johnson could have an excellent season, but some kid from North Carolina State could make 10 interceptions and totally steal his thunder. Johnson will certainly be Michigan’s #1 corner and he should be one of the best in the Big Ten, if not the best.

It’s not only his talent that puts him at #2 in the countdown, though. There’s also the uncomfortable fact that Michigan does not have much proven depth at the position. The coaching staff brought in UMass transfer Josh Wallace, but there was also a time in the spring where Jim Harbaugh anointed Amorion Walker a starter . . . before Walker looked kinda bad in the spring game. While Michigan has quality backups at almost every single position, the one spot on defense that gets shaky immediately is cornerback, so the hope is that Johnson stays healthy throughout the year.

Prediction: Starting cornerback; 50 tackles, 4 interceptions