How Michigan football can replace Keon Sabb in the secondary

Michigan football suffered a key loss in the transfer portal on Friday and here's how the Wolverines can replace Keon Sabb in the secondary.

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Keon Sabb (3) tackles Washington
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Keon Sabb (3) tackles Washington / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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Michigan football suffered its first major loss on Friday via the transfer portal as former top-100 safety Keon Sabb has departed the program.

It's possible that Sabb could return. Texas A&M just had a defensive back come back to the team after going into the transfer portal. However, it feels like Alabama is making a hard push for Sabb, although new secondary coach Lamar Morgan should still do what he can to keep him.

Sabb started a few games last season for the Wolverines when Rod Moore was injured. He also finished with 28 tackles and had two interceptions, plus a key pass breakup in the national championship game.

Replacing Sabb won't be easy and even if he wasn't a starting safety for Michigan football, I think he would have been more snaps if U-M used a three-safety nickel lineup, which I think is very possible. It still could be based on the players remaining and here's how Michigan can replace Sabb.

Keon Sabb replacements for Michigan football

The loss of Sabb hurts, there's no way around it. But one positive is that Michigan football has depth at safety, which could have precipiated the move in the first place. If Sabb was slated to have a starting role next season, it's hard to see him leaving.

That's just the way of college football. If you're offered more playing time and more NIL money, it would be hard for anyone to say no. However, the cupboard isn't bare and there are two guys to watch for that third safety role.

One is Zeke Berry. Berry was ranked No.171 overall according to the 247 Sports composite rankings. He played in 11 games last season but saw just three at defensive back. He'll be expected to step up and 247 Sports own rankings had him ranked 57th overall in 2022 -- the same class as Sabb.

Brandyn Hillman saw time in nine games last season as a true freshman defensive back. The 6-foot, 200-pound safety was ranked 217th overall in the 2023 class according to the 247 Sports composite rankings, so Michigan football will have options.

Frankly, both guys should see playing time as the third and fourth safety. Berry also makes sense to me in the nickel role (big nickel). So while the loss of Sabb does sting, Michigan football has talented players waiting in the wings.

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Now, it's their time to deliver.