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Big Ten Football: 8 Defensive Transfers Has Thinned Out the Michigan Wolverines 2017 Class on D

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Big Ten Football: 8 Defensive Transfers Has Thinned Out the Michigan Wolverines 2017 Class on D

2020-02-12 15:26:291 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST


-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Michigan Wolverines defensive end Kwity Paye. (Image Source: Getty Images)

With National Signing Day official behind us, we continue to look back at Jim Harbaugh’s first five signing classes. Here’s a breakdown of the 2017 recruiting class on the defensive side of the ball:

DT Aubrey Solomon (247 Composite Ranking: 23): Among Michigan’s biggest recruiting wins, Harbaugh lured the five-star recruit from Georgia out of SEC country. After he showed a lot of promise as a freshman, injuries held him back in 2018. It was disappointing when Solomon decided to transfer (Tennessee).

Next: Solomon is expected to start for Tennessee in 2020

DE Luiji Vilain (247 Composite Ranking: 57): He came to Ann Arbor with high hopes as an edge rusher. Vilain has barely made an impact, as multiple knee injuries kept him off the field in his first two seasons, yet there was a lot of promise leading into 2019. He forced a fumble against Notre Dame, but only got into six games.

Next: Vilain is expected to be backup defensive end in 2020

OLB Drew Singleton (247 Composite Ranking: 79): The New Jersey native was a big recruiting win for the Wolverines but didn’t even make it two years on campus. Singleton was mostly a special teams contributor as a sophomore with one game as a defender to his credit. He decided to transfer to Rutgers (started 2 games in 2019).

Next: Singleton has two seasons of eligibility remaining at Rutgers

CB Ambry Thomas (247 Composite Ranking: 90): It took longer than expected for the highly-touted Thomas to emerge as a key piece to Michigan’s defense as he was mostly a special teamer in his first two seasons before turning in a fabulous junior season as a coverman. The speedster has first-team All-Big Ten talent.

Next: Thomas is expected to start at cornerback in 2020

OLB Jordan Anthony (247 Composite Ranking: 106): The athletic linebacker sat out his first season and got into four games at linebacker (seven total) in 2018. Anthony had a chance to earn significant playing time last season but finished with just 11 tackles in a backup role (nine games). He’s entered the transfer portal.   

MLB Josh Ross (247 Composite Ranking: 211): As a true freshman, Ross stood out on special teams, which led up to his breakout sophomore season where despite just one start he earned All-B1G honorable mention consideration. Slotted to start in 2019 his season was cut short due to injury. Still has two years of eligibility.

Next: Ross is expected to start at linebacker in 2020

Links: Class of 2015 | 2016 Offense | 2016 Defense | 2017 Offense |

DT James Hudson (247 Composite Ranking: 231): The 300-pounder flipped to the offensive side of the ball as a freshman. He did not see any action in his first season before he got into three games at right tackle in 2018. Hudson then decided to transfer to Cincinnati but did not get immediately eligibility, upsetting some.

Next: Hudson has two seasons of eligibility remaining at Cincinnati

DE Deron Irving-Bey (247 Composite Ranking: 249): He followed fellow in-state 2017 classmate JaRaymond Hall to Central Michigan. Irving-Bey did not get on the field in his one season at UM, so he decided to move on prior to the 2018 season. Was academically dismissed from UCM, then accepted back, but has yet to play.  

Next: Irving-Bay has two seasons of eligibility remaining

S Jaylen Kelly-Powell (247 Composite Ranking: 250): During his three seasons at Michigan, Kelly-Powell saw action at cornerback, safety, and special teams. When you go from 10 games played as a true freshman, to seven as a sophomore, to three as a junior the writing is on the wall. The Detroit native entered the transfer portal.

Next: Kelly-Powell has two seasons of eligibility remaining

DE Corey Malone-Hatcher (247 Composite Ranking: 268): Injury ended Malone-Hatcher’s career before it even began. The four-star prospect from Michigan suffered a torn left Achilles tendon in high school and it never fully healed, which resulted in his retirement from football prior to his freshman season.

DE Donovan Jeter (247 Composite Ranking: 289): Originally committed to Notre Dame, Jeter also suffered an injury before his career at Michigan began, which cost him the entire 2017 season. The past two years he’s gotten into 15 games with one start after moving inside to defensive tackle, but he failed to make a stop in 2018.

Next: Jeter will complete for a starting position at defensive tackle in 2020

CB Benjamin St-Juste (247 Composite Ranking: 338): Loved the athleticism the Canadian flashed as a true freshman, mostly on special teams. With his length and speed, St-Juste has the skill set to be an ideal defensive back. Injuries forced him to sit out 2018 and after reports of a retirement, he landed at Minnesota (9 starts).

Next: St-Juste has two seasons of eligibility remaining at Minnesota

S J’Marick Woods (247 Composite Ranking: 383): Similar to St-Juste, Woods looks the part. He’s long and athletic with an impressive frame. He stood out on special teams as a freshman, however failed to develop. Played in 23 games in his first two seasons, but appeared in only four games in 2019 leading to his transfer.

Next: Woods has two seasons of eligibility remaining at Duke

DT Phillip Paea (247 Composite Ranking: 459): Despite playing a position of need in 2019, Paea didn’t get into a game in his third season at Michigan. Paea also sat out as a true freshman with his only action coming in 2018 when he played in two games, both as an offensive guard. Is back on defense, but don’t expect much.  

Next: Paea has two seasons of eligibility remaining at Michigan

DE Kwity Paye (247 Composite Ranking: 487): A diamond in the rough, Paye has been the most-productive defender in the 2017 Class for Michigan. A physical lineman, Paye is a strong edge defender who has improved as a pass rusher (6.5 sacks in 2019) and was a second-team All-B1G choice by the coaches as a junior.  

Next: Paye is expected to start at defensive end in 2020

ILB Ben Mason (247 Composite Ranking: 817): The Connecticut native has had one of the more intriguing careers of the Harbaugh era. Mason has played in all 39 games with three starts. He’s got two starts at fullback and one at defensive tackle. Mason scored seven touchdowns in 2018 and had seven tackles in 2019.

Next: Mason has one season of eligibility remaining at Michigan

P Brad Robbins (247 Composite Ranking: NA): As a true freshman, Robbins held his own punting in 10 games. While he doesn’t have a booming leg, Robbins earned All-B1G honorable mention because of his ability to create fair catches and pin teams inside the 20-yard line. Was injured in 2018 and only had only four punts in 2019.

Next: Robbins has two seasons of eligibility remaining at Michigan

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email:                        


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