Michigan football’s 2023 spring camp is complete with around four months to go until fall preparations for the season.
Arguably the biggest question mark on the Michigan roster heading into the new season, defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale has his work cut out for him in replacing some departed experience at the position. But the Wolverines feel like they have a nice mix of talent and youth on the roster.
Here are thoughts and storylines for each scholarship cornerback coming out of the spring.
Graduate German Green
His twin brother, Gemon, is off to the 2023 NFL Draft, but German will return for a 6th season in Ann Arbor. He had 5 total tackles in a special teams and reserve role during the 2022 campaign.
Graduate Mike Sainristil
Mike Sainristil made the transition from wide receiver to nickel corner during the 2022 season and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer. He returns for a 5th season and will likely retain his status as a team captain, and the staff also seems open to the idea of him playing boundary corner some, too. His best shot at a pro career is going to come in the slot, and he looked like a natural there last season. Versatility will only make him more valuable to the Michigan defense and also as a potential pro prospect after last season.
Junior Ja’Den McBurrows
Ja’Den McBurrows never saw game action in 2022 while returning from a knee injury, then eventual facial injuries suffered in the post-MSU fallout. He could be a dark horse candidate to emerge in a much bigger role in the U-M cornerback rotation in 2023. McBurrows had a healthy and productive spring and was one of the better players on the field during the spring game. He has been named by a few behind the scenes as the toughest cover corner on the team, and he will also come up and make a tackle or a lay a big hit. If the roster stays the way it is heading into fall camp, it might have McBurrows at the CB2 spot.
Sophomore Will Johnson
The former five-star recruit was a revelation for U-M, living up to his lofty hype with a Freshman All-American season. Will Johnson played in all 14 games and recorded 3 interceptions in his first year on the job is the team’s undisputed top cornerback heading into fall camp. However, he did miss much of the spring with a lower body injury and is recovering from surgery, and it apparently dates back to high school. Johnson expects to be ready for fall camp, and his play this year should take a step forward with an injury behind him. NFL scouts already see him as a potential top-10 prospect in the 2025 class.
Sophomore Kody Jones
Kody Jones played reserve nickel cornerback and saw playing time in 4 games in 2022, making 5 total tackles. He should compete for that spot again behind Sainristil, but could also have some stiff competition from classmate and safety Zeke Berry.
Sophomore Myles Pollard
U-M sent Myles Pollard into game action twice during his freshman year in mop-up duty against Colorado State and UConn. This year, they are going to need him to take a step forward and he spent most of the spring in competition for the No. 2 cornerback job. He has good length at 6-foot-2 and his athletic traits have been overshadowed by the Amorion Walker hype this offseason. They like him as a long-term piece at corner, and he has the extra redshirt season of eligibility for his development.
Sophomore Amorion Walker
Perhaps the biggest riser this spring, Amorion Walker has gone from three-star recruit with an uncertain position to a potential starter at cornerback. The big, athletic prospect made the switch towards the end of last year and made enough strides for Harbaugh to call him a starter at the start of spring ball. However, the spring game showing was rough, routinely getting beaten by former walk-on wide receiver Peyton O’Leary. Michigan is selling him on his long-term outlook being best at corner, but it is clear that we need to tap the breaks on labeling him the solution on the other side of Johnson.
Freshman Cameron Calhoun
Cameron Calhoun was part of the post-OSU game run of commitments out of the state of Ohio and another spring enrollee. Michigan is pleased with his progress thus far, but he might be a year away from having more of an impact in the defensive back room.
Freshman Jyaire Hill
U-M sweated it out to land Jyaire Hill during the early signing period. He came in as a 4-star prospect and the No. 165 player in the country per the On3 Consensus. Hill had a good spring and has positioned himself for early playing time this fall. He is further along than you might expect at this stage of the game. While Hill may not be on the same trajectory as Johnson, we should see him mix in sometime this fall.
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