Whoever Jim Harbaugh’s replacement at Michigan is, they can’t lose these 5 players

Jim Harbaugh and most of Michigan's roster are off to the NFL, but whoever Harbaugh's replacement is, FanSided college sports writer Josh Yourish says they cannot let these five players enter the transfer portal to leave Ann Arbor.
Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze (1) and Michigan Wolverines Will Johnson
Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze (1) and Michigan Wolverines Will Johnson / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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It was truly the last dance for the Michigan Wolverines. Now, it wasn’t the end of a three-peat like the documentary, but Jim Harbaugh did take his team to the College Football Playoff in three straight seasons before winning a title, and now he, his quarterback, and almost all of his senior-laden roster and maybe even Connor Stallions are headed to the NFL. 

Harbaugh signed a five-year deal to take over as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, so now Michigan, under the watchful eye of the NCAA, will look for Harbaugh’s replacement. 

Sherrone Moore, who coached the team to a 4-0 record with wins over Penn State and Ohio State during Harbaugh’s suspension at the end of the year, has been positioned as the heir-apparent. Especially with Harbaugh seemingly always flirting with a return to the pros.

However, now that Harbaugh has finally made the jump to the NFL, Michigan may get gun-shy about defending its first national title since 1997 with a first-time head coach. Whether it’s Moore, defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, who made Jalen Milroe’s head spin in the Rose Bowl, or an external hire, the new head coach of the Wolverines cannot let these five players leave through the transfer portal. 

The portal has cooled off, even after it was flooded with players from Alabama and Washington, but Michigan players have a 30-day window to search for a new home in the portal. It’ll be a disaster if any of these players choose to search for greener pastures. 

RB. 485. Donovan Edwards. Senior. . . player. 7. Donovan Edwards. Donovan Edwards

No, Edwards was not good in 2023, he only averaged 4.2 yards per carry behind an elite offensive line, by far the lowest of his career, but he decided not to leave for the NFL, and will be a crucial part of the 2024 Wolverines. 

In 2023, Michigan ran the ball 37.5 times a game, the 53rd most in the country and was 122nd in passing attempts. This is a run-first team and Blake Corum has left for the league, vacating 258 carries, most of which will go to Edwards. 

In the national championship game, Edwards finally looked like himself. He ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries and showed off the breakaway speed that allowed him to average 7.1 yards per carry in 2022. 

Corum and J.J. McCarthy will both be gone, so Edwards will have the experience and the talent to carry Michigan’s offense. The new head coach cannot let him off campus.