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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Will Johnson. . 2. Will Johnson. . CB. Junior. Will Johnson. player. 485

In 2025, Will Johnson might be the top defensive player selected in the NFL draft, but for now, he’s returning to Michigan for his junior season as the reigning College Football Playoff defensive MVP. 

As a sophomore, Johnson played the third most snaps among Michigan corners, behind Mike Sainristil and Josh Wallace, but by the end of the season, he was the clear lockdown guy on the defense. 

Johnson finished the year with two pass breakups and four interceptions including one in the national championship game. He was targeted six times by Michael Penix Jr. and only gave up two catches for 11 yards. That was while primarily covering Rome Odunze, a projected top-10 pick this April.

Across the entire season, Johnson didn’t allow a single touchdown and receivers only managed to catch 17 of 38 targets when he was in coverage. 

For Jesse Minter’s defense, which relies heavily on simulated pressure and a lot of bodies around the line of scrimmage, to work, he needs lockdown cornerbacks who can survive in coverage man-to-man coverage. That's Will Johnson, and will Sainristil and Wallace heading for the league, Johnson is the key to the secondary in 2024.