Michigan football: How concerning is loss of DJ Waller to transfer portal?

DJ Waller has entered the transfer portal and we have some thoughts on how concerned Michigan football fans should be.
Michigan defensive back DJ Waller Jr. (13) warms up before the East Carolina game at Michigan
Michigan defensive back DJ Waller Jr. (13) warms up before the East Carolina game at Michigan / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan football has done an exceptional job of retaining its roster after the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh and much of his staff to the NFL but the Wolverines suffered a hit on Wednesday.

Keon Sabb and Karmello English are the most notable transfers so far from Michigan football, but DJ Waller is another as the rising sophomore has entered the transfer portal.

Some in the Michigan football media world called it a shock. It's hard to disagree. Waller was pushing for the No. 2 cornerback spot and shined in the spring game on Saturday. Jyaire Hill and Ja'Den McBurrows are also in the mix. Plus, there has been talk of Michigan football seeking a transfer portal cornerback just like they did with Josh Wallace last season.

But a 6-foot-3 corner who played in 11 games last season and was due to be a key part of the cornerback room, if not a starter, isn't a loss to scoff at. It stings and it leaves the Wolverines lacking depth in the secondary, which was already an issue, especially due to the Rod Moore injury.

It sounds like NIL was a factor. But anyone could have guessed that. We have heard about opposing teams tampering and coming after Michigan football players with some even getting offered millions to enter the portal.

So far, Michigan has kept all of its stars. It hasn't lost a starter yet, although Sabb and Waller were going to play significant snaps next season.

What it means for Michigan roster in 2024

The Wolverines need to prioritize a cornerback in the transfer portal. It was on their radar already and now, it's almost a must. Michigan football does have enough talent, at the top of the depth chart to get by, assuming Hill has a breakout season of sorts.

The Wolverines could still have a solid group of corners and safeties but Zeke Berry might need to focus on nickel. That would allow McBurrows and Hill to play cornerback, while Makari Paige, Quentin Johnson, and Brandyn Hillman could handle the safety spot.


Add a proven corner from the portal and the depth looks much better. Michigan is thin right now and if there is an injury or two, it could be a real issue. So just like wide receiver, this staff needs to do whatever it can to add a veteran corner in the spring transfer window. The Wolverines also need to up their NIL game, which obviously, still isn't where it needs to be.