Player retention is key for Michigan football, and so far so good

If Sherrone Moore can keep key Michigan football players on the roster, the Wolverines can be contenders once again in 2024.
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Will Johnson (2) celebrates his
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive back Will Johnson (2) celebrates his / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Sherrone Moore has only been the Michigan football head coach for a matter of days, but there have already been some setbacks in terms of the coaching staff.

The biggest loss came on Monday morning as the former director of strength and conditioning, Ben Herbert, announced that he was leaving for the Chargers. Justin Tress, his assistant, will take over, but Herbert was a key recruiting tool and a key part of the culture.

Herbert was a key loss because it makes it more likely that some Wolverines will enter the transfer portal. So far, Michigan football has been able to avoid that fate. Harbaugh was hired last week by the Chargers and as of yet, no one has jumped ship.

As much as it hurts to lose Jim Harbaugh and it does hurt, just look at the man's record as a head coach -- he wins wherever he goes -- losing some of the top players will hurt just as much going into the 2024 season. Long-term success will depend on Sherrone Moore being able to recruit, plus the ability to continue to develop players as they have over the past few seasons.

Losing Herbert could make that more difficult but Michigan football hired his right-hand man. Hopefully, that and hiring Harbaugh's chosen candidate will be enough to retain guys like Will Johnson, Mason Graham, Kenneth Grant, Colston Loveland, Donovan Edwards, Rod Moore, and others.

All of those guys could be picked on the first two days of the NFL draft and are at key positions. The defense could essentially return seven starters. Some key backups and transfer portal additions have filled most of the needs, but that's assuming there are no other departures.

Johnson is being talked about as a top-10 pick. Mason Graham and Grant are both going to be first-round picks someday. Loveland, Edwards, and Moore are also NFL players. Michigan football has to find a quarterback on the roster, or in the transfer portal, but the offensive line will be good and the running game should be just fine.


So if the Wolverines can retain their star players, the drop off should be minimal next season even without Jim Harbagh. But the player retention piece is key and it's going to be a question mark at least for a few more weeks.