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Michigan football’s depleted defense loses 2 of top commits on National Signing Day

Branden Jennings, Quintin Somerville flip to Maryland, UCLA

Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown reacts to a fourth quarter penalty during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State defeated Michigan 56-27.
Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown reacts to a fourth quarter penalty during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State defeated Michigan 56-27. (2019 Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich.Michigan football was weak on the defensive side of the ball this season, and National Signing Day brought more bad news, as the Wolverines lost two of their top defensive commitments.

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Changes figure to be in store for Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coaching staff after a 2-4 season fueled largely by an inability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Don Brown, who led the Wolverines to elite defensive finishes his first three seasons with the program, couldn’t dial up any pressure for the second straight year, as Michigan served up an average of 34.5 points per game to its opponents.

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Indiana dropped 38 points on Michigan, and a week later, Wisconsin scored 49. The Badgers scored a total of 20 points in their last three games after crushing Michigan.

Harbaugh has to make some defensive changes, and that unfortunately has damaged what was once an excellent defensive recruiting class.

On Wednesday, the start of the early signing period for high school recruits, Michigan lost four-star linebacker Branden Jennings to Maryland and four-star defensive end Quintin Somerville to UCLA.

Recruiting flips happen every year, but for Michigan to lose highly ranked players at positions of need to non-football powerhouses -- that’s a bad sign.

On the offensive side of the ball, Michigan’s class is strong, with five-star quarterback J.J. McCarthy, a crop of talented linemen and some dangerous skill players.

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But Michigan’s greatest weaknesses are along the defensive line and in coverage, so bringing in a class without a defensive tackle and (at most) one cornerback presents major issues.


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