Michigan Football: Is this Jim Harbaugh’s Best Defense?

Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins celebrates his interception against the Bowling Green Falcons during second half action Saturday, Sept.16 2023.
Michigan defensive lineman Kris Jenkins celebrates his interception against the Bowling Green Falcons during second half action Saturday, Sept.16 2023. /
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Michigan football
Syndication: Detroit Free Press /

The secondary is loaded too

It’s possible that Michigan football has the best secondary in the nation. Will Johnson is possibly the best cornerback in America and is going to shut down half of the field. He played phenomenally against the likes of Marvin Harrison Jr, Charlie Jones, and Quinten Johnston. As a freshman. While he’s been banged up, he’ll be a superstar when he returns to the field.

Rod Moore is a top three safety in the nation and has a case for being the best. He plays every game with a chip on his shoulder and is an absolute superstar. Like Will, Rod has been banged up to start the season, although Jesse Minter hinted at the secondary being close to fully healthy recently. The safety position has been very thin to start the season, with both Moore and Makari Paige battling injuries.

Upon the return of Moore, the defense is going to get a huge boost. He’s an excellent coverage guy and is a sound tackler — something the defense has been struggling with to start the season.

To round out the secondary, we can’t forget about Mike Sainristil. What a story. Switched to defensive back just last year and is now on his way to playing in the NFL. Sainristil has definitely reached superstar status. He’s a stud on the field, but he’s also the leader of the defense.

Before every game, it’s Mike in the middle of the huddle getting the team ready for battle. He makes everyone around him better, and that’s an irreplaceable asset. Oh, and he’s a beast on the field. It’s ridiculous how quickly Sainristil has learned how to be a successful defensive back.

He loves contact and might be one of the hardest hitters on the team. He’s an incredibly smart player and can make the big plays, as we saw against Ohio State last season.

From a leadership and talent perspective, this secondary group should easily be amongst the best in the nation. While cornerback two is still up in the air, the Wolverines are going to be elite in the secondary.


Each level of this defense is elite. There’s nothing else to it. If there’s any hole in this defense, it’s either the second cornerback spot or possibly the EDGE rushers, but even those are stretches. The interior superstardom can make up for any lack of pressure from the edge, although there are stars on the edge too.

In the secondary, the depth and talent that will be on the field when everyone is healthy will far overshadow any deficiencies at the cornerback position. Will Johnson is going to shut down half of the field, allowing for the safeties to help Josh Wallace or whoever the second cornerback is?

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Last year the Wolverines had a no-star defense. This year? They may have an eleven-star defense. Go Blue!