The Michigan Wolverines’ 2022 defense was called a “no name” group by Jim Harbaugh prior to the start of the season, but several different players have made a name for themselves due to the success of the team and the defensive unit.

Among them are pass rushers Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie, who sealed the Iowa game with QB pressures and sacks on the last series.

Another defensive lineman on his way to recognition is Mason Graham, the Wolverines’ talented four-star defensive lineman from Anaheim, California.

Graham, listed at 6-foot-3, 317 pounds, has hit the ground running as a stalwart defensive tackle for the Michigan defense.

Flanked by Morris, Okie, Kris Jenkins, Mazi Smith and others, the Wolverines have quietly cultivated a defensive line full of fundamentally sound, versatile players who dominate opposing teams at the point of attack and rush the passer equally well.

Despite losing David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson from last year’s team, the Michigan defense hasn’t missed a beat.

The team is currently ranked number one in the nation in total defense, giving up just 232.8 yards per game.

Opponents average just 3.99 yards per play on offense against the Wolverines, a total that ranks behind only the Hawkeyes nationally, who are giving up 3.81 yards per play.

This past Saturday, Michigan gave up just 146 total yards to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a 34-3 victory.

It was a total team effort from start to finish, but the defense was led by an unsung hero: Graham, who notched one sack on the afternoon and finished the day as Pro Football Focus’ top performer for the Michigan defense.

Graham isn’t known for his pass rushing, but he excelled in that area this past weekend.

If Michigan is to cap off its season with a championship, either of the Big Ten or national variety, the play of Graham and its defensive line could be the x-factor.

While the Wolverines don’t have any players who look quite as monstrous as NFL rookie star Jordan Davis, formerly of the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs, their defensive line has quietly gotten stronger and more talented physically than last season, with Graham, Morris and others leading the way.

Graham, the L.A. Times High School Player of the Year for 2021, wrestled four years in high school, and uses his understanding of leverage to disengage from opposing linemen before making the tackle.

According to Pro Football Focus, Graham received a grade of 83 out of 100 on Saturday after playing 19 snaps over the course of the game.

On a day where the entire defense stood out, it was Graham who made the most of his opportunities, as shown in the video below.

Graham’s performance was just the latest in a season full of tremendous performances by several different Wolverines defenders.

If this caliber of play continues, Michigan’s defense might earn itself a nickname or two, and more than a few awards, by the time what could be another championship season is finished.