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See where the Michigan football defense ranks ahead of anticipated 2023 season

The Michigan football defense has been ranked among the best in the nation.



Rod Moore and Michigan football
Nov 13, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Rod Moore (19) tackles Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Parker Washington (3) during the first quarter at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

In back-to-back years, the Michigan football defense has finished in the top 10 for the fewest yards allowed per game. With the 2023 season approaching, the Wolverine defense is garnering attention once again as one of the top defensive units to watch in the 2023 season, per ESPN.

ESPN Ranks Michigan football defense No. 2 overall for 2023

Last season, the Michigan football defense was clicking on all facets of the game. The secondary, linebackers, and defensive line all played at elite levels.

Defensive tackle Mazi Smith, edge rusher Mike Morris, and cornerback DJ Turner all were drafted into the NFL at the conclusion of the 2022 season. The year before, Michigan also had three defenders drafted, with even more signing as free agents.

With Michigan football turning out high-level talent left and right, the Wolverines are expected to have another top-10 defense for the 2023 season. ESPN thinks Michigan’s defense will be No. 2 in the nation.

Michigan defense gearing up for another big season

With minimal roster turnover on defense, Michigan football should retain many key players who contributed to defensive success in 2022. Michigan’s linebacker core should remain pretty much the same, with Junior Colson and Mike Barrett expected to be starting.

Despite losing DJ Turner to the draft, Michigan’s secondary is still very strong. Last season, Mike Sainristil switched positions from receiver to cornerback and has proved his talent ever since. Helping Sainristil at cornerback will be the breakout sophomore, Will Johnson.

Behind them are safeties Rod Moore and Makari Paige. Paige and Moore will be entering their second seasons as starters, and if they can remain consistent as they were in 2022 the Wolverine secondary will be in good hands.

Up front, sophomore nose tackle Mason Graham should see more playing time in 2023. The four-star recruit showed flashes of elite potential in the 2022 season and could be a breakout player for the Wolverine line this year.

While the edge rushing position will have new starters for 2023, the Wolverines have had a pretty good track record with developing elite edge rushers in recent years – Hutchinson, Ojabo, and Morris were all taken in the previous two NFL drafts. Whoever takes over this season will have big shoes to fill but will be supported by a strong defensive cast of players and coaches.

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