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WOLVERINES

Michigan football's 5 new faces most likely to make an impact in 2024 season

Detroit Free Press

Gone are the days of gathering around small electronics to watch announcements, or the crossing of fingers as a fax may or may not come in on the first Wednesday in February from a highly regarded high school prospect.

When Gatlin Bair spurned for a second time after he decommitted from Boise State only to choose Oregon late last month, he became the final non-committed ESPN top 300 recruit to come off the board. While dozens still have to sign on the dotted line, and there will continue to be flips and transfers, the main day has already passed.

Michigan signed a 27-man class of 2024 at the start of the early signing period 鈥 Dec. 21-23 鈥 when the program prepared for its third consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff.

Ten of the rising freshmen signed on with the program as early enrollees, eight of whom made the postseason trips where they suited up for practice both in Pasadena ahead of the team's 27-20 OT victory over Alabama in the Rose Bowl, and in Houston where U-M capped its undefeated season with a 34-13 win over Washington to claim the national championship.

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With 16 starters from the program's best team in its history now departed, there certainly appears room for newcomers in the transfer portal and perhaps even a few freshmen 鈥 just ask Semaj Morgan 鈥 who could make an immediate impact.

These are the five new faces to watch the most 鈥 keeping in mind it's likely the Wolverines will add more pieces during the spring transfer portal window now that their coaching staff is more definitively in place 鈥 ahead of the 2024 season.

OL Josh Priebe (Northwestern)

Josh Priebe. center,  against Illinois on December 12, 2020.

The Wolverines not only lost their entire starting offensive line in LaDarius Henderson, Trevor Keegan, Drake Nugent, Zak Zinter and Karsen Barnhart, but they lost their next rotational lineman in Trente Jones.

Priebe, who started 12 games a season ago for Northwestern and made 28 starts across the past three seasons combined for the Wildcats, feels like the leader in the clubhouse at one of the interior line positions.

A three-star prospect coming out of Edwardsburg, the 6-foot-5, 310-pound graduate transfer was third-team All-Big Ten last season, and will likely compete with Giovanni El-Hadi, Greg Crippen and Raheem Anderson for starting positions.

LB Jaishawn Barham (Maryland)

Oct 8, 2022; College Park, Maryland, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O'Connell (16) scrambles as Maryland Terrapins linebacker Jaishawn Barham (1) applies pressure during the first half at SECU Stadium.

Once again, U-M loses its entire starting group to the NFL as sixth-year All-Big Ten standout Michael Barrett ran out of eligibility and Junior Colson opted out of his final year to enter the NFL draft.

While Ernest Hausmann was able to sub in with great success at both positions, and Jimmy Rolder, Jaydon Hood and Micah Pollard each have their own strengths, Jaishawn Barham figures to be one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten.

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He played in just 10 games last season as he was slowed by injury, but still finished with 37 tackles, three sacks, a pass breakup up, and one interception of U-M's J.J. McCarthy in the end zone, a key play even though the team fell short to the Wolverines, 31-24.

As a freshman, Barham recorded 59 tackles, four sacks, and a forced fumble in 12 games as he joins U-M with two years of eligibility remaining.

RB Jordan Marshall (Four-star, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller)

Moeller senior Jordan Marshall with mother Amy after he signed with the University of Michigan. Moeller had seven seniors sign with colleges, six with football and one with rugby, Dec. 20, 2023.

Speaking of places there's a hole in the roster, Michigan needs to replace its all-time leader in rushing touchdowns and its bell-cow running back of the past two seasons, Blake Corum.

That said, Donovan Edwards announced he would return for his senior season, so the expectation is that he will get the lead shot at becoming the focal back. However, it's much more likely that Edwards' role and opportunities expand rather than morph into something that looks like Corum's role.

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Former U-M running backs CJ Stokes and Leon Franklin both entered the transfer portal after the Big Ten Championship game, so the room doesn't have quite the same depth as recent seasons, but expect Kalel Mullings to be the thunder back with Edwards as the lightning.

There's also Benjamin Hall, who turned heads in the spring game last year as a true freshman and has drawn rave reviews since he stepped on campus, but don't put it past Marshall to impress in a similar fashion.

QB Jadyn Davis (Four-star, Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day)

Michigan quarterback commit Jadyn Davis arrives for the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

While it might be a long shot for Davis to take the field, he's long been seen as the crown jewel of the 2023 class and was dubbed the heir-apparent to McCarthy when he officially committed last year.

With McCarthy's early departure for the NFL, many have speculated whether Michigan may look to the transfer portal or find a quarterback already on the roster.

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That would likely be Alex Orji, who has the most playing experience and but Jayden Denegal and Davis Warren both have indicated their plans to stick around and compete for the job as well.

If it truly is an open competition, Davis' raw talent is as high as anybody's. New offensive coordinator Kirk Campbell has liked what he's seen from the start, like shortly before the Rose Bowl, when he told the Free Press about how the team "threw him in the fire" right away in the team's "skelly" 7-on-7 drill and Davis calmly completed each of his first three passes.

"That was pretty awesome to see," Campbell said.

TE Brady Prieskorn (Four-star, Rochester Adams)

Rochester Adams tight end Brady Prieskorn

Michigan appears fully prepared for Colston Loveland to make the jump to the NFL after his junior season as it seems to have his replacement waiting in the wings in Prieskorn.

A long, athletic tight end with great speed, good route-running ability, and fantastic hands, Prieskorn is a catch-first tight end currently who will have to develop as a blocker first and foremost in U-M's tight end room that has a "no block, no rock" policy, but offers tantalizing upside.

The Wolverines lost a trio of pass catchers to the NFL draft in Roman Wilson, Cornelius Johnson and AJ Barner this offseason and will need to find a way to put weapons on the field on an offense that only returns three proven skill position pieces: Edwards, Loveland, and Morgan.

Contact Tony Garcia at聽apgarcia@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at聽