The Michigan Wolverines are set to return one of the best football teams in the NCAA this season regardless of division, from the offensive side of the ball to defense and special teams.

The offense is expected to be elite, while the defense returns several key contributors.

Michigan’s linebacking corps was also ranked as a top five unit nationally by well known college football writer Phil Steele.

So, where might teams be able to take advantage of the Wolverines’ stout, nationally ranked defense? The secondary is projected to be strong, but it does have a few potential weak links after the departure of D.J. Turner to the Cincinnati Bengals and R.J. Moten to the Florida Gators.

The Wolverines return plenty of talent in the secondary. The addition of University of Massachusetts defensive back Josh Wallace signaled a need at the position.

According to Pro Football Focus, Michigan’s best secondary returnees include the following (with PFF rating):

-Will Johnson (88.2 PFF rating)

-Rod Moore (83.8)

-Mike Sainristil (83.3)

-Makari Paige (79.1)

-Josh Wallace (70.1)

As shown by the stats above, Wallace is the lowest-ranked defensive back among Michigan’s likely playing rotation.

Will Michigan’s Defensive Backs Step Up in 2023? 


For Michigan to compete for and win a Big Ten and national championship, the secondary needs to play its best this upcoming season. The Wolverines’ pass rush, led by Braiden McGregor, Jaylen Harrell, Ernest Hausmann and others, is expected to be a strength of the team, but is largely unproven over the course of a long season.

Johnson is expected to become one of, if not the best corner(s) in the nation this season. Moore is a steady player with a knack for the big play at safety, and Sainristil is a playmaker.

The x-factor may be whether Wallace, or perhaps freshman sensation Jyaire Hill, can step up and become the second outside starting corner Michigan football needs to carry on its tradition of lockdown defenses in the Big Ten.