Michigan is coming off the best season its had in a long time after defeating rival Ohio State, beating Iowa in the Big Ten title game, and making the College Football Playoff.
Even after losing a majority of the defense, the Wolverines still have high expectations for the new football season. The maize and blue return most of their star power on the offensive side of the ball and Michigan gained a Rimington Award finalist at center in Olusegun Oluwatimi from Virginia as a graduate transfer.
With the Wolverines having such a great season last year, as you would assume, the expectations are extremely high for Jim Harbaugh and company. ESPN came out with an article ranking college football’s top 25 based on future rankings. The list is determined based on projections for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 seasons. Adam Rittenberg is basing his projections on coaching changes, recruiting, and NIL projections.
Michigan came in at No. 8 on the list and it moved the most towards the top out of any team from last year. Rittenberg ranked the Wolverines’ quarterback room as the eighth-best in the nation, he ranked the maize and blue offense at No. 8 and the defense is sitting at 10th for the 2022 season. Here’s what was said about Michigan for the future.
2022 Future QB ranking: 10:
2022 Future offense ranking: 8:
2022 Future defense ranking: 10:
2021 Future team ranking: Not ranked:
Scouting the Wolverines: As expected, Michigan makes the biggest move in the team rankings after recording its first AP top-three finish since its last national championship season of 1997. The Wolverines might not be an annual CFP contender, but they seemingly have turned a corner under coach Jim Harbaugh, who recommitted to the program after flirting with the Minnesota Vikings’ job in February. The offense made major strides in 2021 and likely will remain on track despite coordinator Josh Gattis’ departure to Miami. Michigan returns starting quarterback Cade McNamara as well as dynamic sophomore JJ McCarthy, who could be the unit’s long-term answer. Although Michigan relied on the run game and controlling the line of scrimmage in 2021, its strength this coming season could be at wide receiver. Ronnie Bell returns from an ACL injury to join fellow senior Cornelius Johnson, junior Roman Wilsonand sophomore Andrel Anthony. The Wolverines also regain All-Big Ten candidate Erick All at tight end. While Hassan Haskins will be missed at running back, Michigan’s 1-2 punch of junior Blake Corum and sophomore Donovan Edwards should propel the position through at least 2023. A veteran line returning Zak Zinter, Trevor Keegan and Ryan Hayes added center Olusegun Oluwatimi, a Virginia transfer and Rimington Trophy finalist in 2021.
The biggest short-term questions come on defense, as Michigan loses arguably the nation’s best tandem of ends in Aidan Hutchinson (No. 2 overall NFL draft pick) and David Ojabo, who would have been a first-round pick if not for a pre -draft injury. Also departing are safety Dax Hill, an NFL first-round pick, and coordinator Mike Macdonald. Linebacker looks like the unit’s immediate strength as Junior Colson and Nikhai Hill-Green both return, alongside Michael Barrett and intriguing young players such as Raylen Wilson, ESPN’s No. 56 overall recruit in the 2022 class. Cornerbacks DJ Turner and Gemon Green bring experience to the back end, alongside junior safety RJ Moten. Michigan’s recent recruiting run, which includes top-100 national prospects William Johnson and Keon Sabb, should help for 2023 and 2024. The interior line sets up well with Mazi Smith and Kris Jenkins, but Michigan needs more pass-rushing threats to emerge. Will Braiden McGregor, Michigan’s top 2020 recruit, blossom this fall? The Wolverines also added end Derrick Moore, ESPN’s No. 20 overall 2022 recruit.
Other Big Ten teams ranked in the ESPN FPR article were: Ohio State (3), Penn State (15), Michigan State (18), Wisconsin (19), and Iowa (21).