Predicting if each of Michigan football's 26 true freshmen will redshirt or play right away

Michigan football had No. 8 recruiting class for 2019

Michigan coach Jim Harbuagh (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan football team comes into the 2019 season with high expectations, but for coach Jim Harbaugh to win a Big Ten championship in his fifth year, he'll need a handful of freshmen to help fill in gaps left by the NFL draft.

Michigan brought in the No. 8 recruiting class in the country last cycle, and as college football enters its second year with the new redshirt rules, coaches will continue to tinker with how they use true freshmen.

Players can now appear in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility. For example, the Wolverines used true freshman Ben VanSumeren against Western Michigan, SMU, Nebraska and Northwestern last year, but he still has four years of eligibility remaining.

With such a talented group of 2019 recruits coming to Ann Arbor, it's likely many of them will have a similar freshman campaign. A handful of them will play significant roles right off the bat, though.

Here's a look at all 26 true freshman, ordered by their ranking in 247 Sports' Composite Rankings, and how likely they are to redshirt this season. (Obviously, injuries could affect any of these predictions.)

S Daxton Hill

Recruiting ranking: 5-star, No. 1 safety, No. 14 nationally

The timing couldn't have been better for Michigan to land the second-highest-rated defensive back in program history (behind Jabrill Peppers).

Hill was the top safety in the country and could have played for any team in college football. It was a back-and-forth recruiting process, but Michigan eventually outlasted Alabama with a stunner on signing day.

Hill joins the Wolverines months after they lost star cornerback David Long to the NFL draft and longtime starting safety Tyree Kinnel to graduation. Michigan was also exposed by Ohio State's speed in the final game of the regular season, and Hill is perhaps the fastest person in the 2019 class.

Whether he's a day one starter or not, Hill figures to be one of the best players on Michigan's defense at some point in 2019, and there's no reason to believe he won't play in every game.

Redshirt likelihood: No chance

DT Chris Hinton

Recruiting ranking: 5-star, No. 4 defensive tackle, No. 31 nationally

Maybe it's because of Hill's commitment, or maybe it's because he momentarily dipped in the rankings, but Hinton is the least talked about five-star in recent Michigan memory.

Hinton has been committed to Michigan since August 2017. Now that he's finally on campus, he figures to be in the mix for immediate playing time on the inside of the defensive line.

Hinton wasn't an early enrollee, which might hurt his case to be a major contributor, but Harbaugh likely doesn't want to sit a five-star recruit on the bench for a season. That would be ammunition for opposing coaches in future recruiting battles.

At 6 feet, 4 inches tall and 280 pounds, Hinton has a college-ready body and a high ceiling. Carlo Kemp and Michael Dwumfour will probably keep him out of the starting lineup, but he should see the field in 2019.

It wouldn't be surprising to see Hinton play a similar role as Aidan Hutchinson did as a true freshman last season.

Redshirt likelihood: Not likely

RB Zach Charbonnet

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 4 running back, No. 46 nationally

If not for an off-season surgery that caused him to miss spring camp, Charbonnet would probably be the favorite to begin the season as Michigan's starting running back. Instead, the true freshman finds himself in a battle with reliable senior Tru Wilson and redshirt freshman Christian Turner.

Running back is a position that freshman can more easily contribute to, especially when a team is trying to replace a workhorse like Karan Higdon.

Charbonnet was considered one of the best running backs in the 2019 class and, when healthy, is ready to contribute at the college level.

Even if he isn't No. 1 on the depth chart by Aug. 31, Charbonnet will be a major part of the Michigan rushing attack.

Redshirt likelihood: No chance

DT Mazi Smith

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 11 defensive tackle, No. 105 nationally

With so many players in the mix along Michigan's defensive line -- Kemp, Dwumfour, Hutchinson, Kwity Paye, Mike Danna, Hinton Luiji Vilain and others -- it might be hard for two true freshmen to play significant snaps.

But Smith has great size and strength, and he's been on campus for seven months as an early enrollee.

The No. 4 player in the state of Michigan, Smith chose Michigan over the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and Notre Dame. He's a high-level player with a chance to be the next difference-maker on the interior of the line.

Even though depth could lead to a redshirt for Smith, it feels like it could be a similar situation to what happened with Paye in 2017. Paye didn't begin the season as a major part of the rotation, mostly coming in at the end of blowouts. But he was so so good that he forced his way onto the field in the second half of the season.

By October, Smith will have spent 10 months with Michigan's coaches and trainers. It might be hard to keep him off the field.

This one could go either way, but I have a feeling Smith will be a factor.

Redshirt likelihood: Leaning toward unlikely

OT Trente Jones

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 11 offensive tackle, No. 108 nationally

Ed Warinner brought in an impressive group of offensive lineman during his first full year recruiting at Michigan, and Jones was the highest-ranked of them all.

At 6 feet, 6 inches tall, Jones definitely profiles as a tackle out of high school. Most college programs would prefer not to start true freshmen at either tackle position, and Michigan certainly won't have to do so in 2019.

Jon Runyan was one of the best tackles in the Big Ten last year, and Jalen Mayfield and Andrew Stueber are competing on the right side.

Michigan has four returning starters on the line overall, and plenty of depth behind them in whoever loses the right tackle battle, Stephen Spanellis, Ryan Hayes and Chuck Filiaga.

Jones might be Michigan's best offensive lineman in the near future, but it won't be this year.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

OG Nolan Rumler

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 10 offensive guard, No. 174 nationally

Rumler is the top guard in Michigan's 2019 recruiting class and will likely be in the mix for a starting spot next summer when Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu graduate.

High school scouts said Rumler is a polished player who could contribute early in his college career. But if Michigan's starters stay healthy, there won't be much reason for Michigan to waste a year of eligibility in 2019.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

WR Cornelius Johnson

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 26 wide receiver, No. 175

The No. 1 player from Connecticut was a wide receiver and committed to Michigan. Sound familiar?

Tarik Black should be one of Michigan's top receivers this season if healthy, but Johnson filled a major need for the program's future.

The Wolverines have plenty of speed in the future receiving corps with Ronnie Bell, Mike Sainristil and Giles Jackson, but after Black, Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones are gone -- either this off-season to the NFL or the following off-season to graduation -- there isn't much size at the position.

Johnson is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and came to Michigan just under 200 pounds. He's not as big as Collins, but he can win a jump ball and has a large catch radius.

While Johnson could probable contribute right away, there won't be much need for him to do so if Michigan stays healthy. Peoples-Jones, Collins, Black, Bell, Sainristil and a handful of tight ends have a leg up on him, and again, it's critical for Johnson to be ready for the future.

Johnson feels like the type of player who will get his four games, at the very least. Michigan's coaching staff would love to redshirt him thanks to the depth at wide receiver.

Redshirt likelihood: Likely

OT Trevor Keegan

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 16 offensive tackle, No. 176 nationally

Michigan has been excellent recruiting the state of Illinois. Keegan was one of the first examples of that trend, committing to the Wolverines as the No. 1 player in the state in 2019.

Keegan and Jones could be a dangerous duo as bookends of Michigan's future offensive line, but like the others above, Keegan likely won't be part of the plan in 2019.

He was listed at 6 feet, 6 inches tall and 310 pounds coming into college, so Keegan will only improve with a year of preparation.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

CB Jalen Perry

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 23 cornerback, No. 200 nationally

Perry is ranked the No. 23 cornerback in the country, but Michigan might have landed one of the better players in the 2019 class at the position.

Perry has great size for a cornerback and good speed, so there's a chance he could break the two-deep right out of the gates. Michigan is replacing Long and Brandon Watson at cornerback this season, so there are certainly opportunities for playing time.

Michigan loaded up on defensive backs in the 2018 class, but Myles Sims transferred and Sammy Faustin has gone from cornerback to wide receiver to safety.

Behind Lavert Hill, Thomas and Vincent Gray, the competition looks wide open.

Cornerback is a difficult position for a true freshman, so Perry still has an uphill battle to play more than four games.

Redshirt likelihood: Likely

LB Anthony Solomon

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 14 outside linebacker, No. 223 nationally

Michigan only took one outside linebacker in 2019, but it was a very good one in Solomon.

Despite losing a star in Devin Bush, the position isn't a great need for Michigan this year. Khaleke Hudson is returning at VIPER and Josh Ross and Devin Gil both played significant time last year.

If a hole opens up due to injury or performance, former four-stars Jordan Anthony and Cam McGrone seem like the obvious first choices to step in.

Solomon will be in the mix for a starting spot in two seasons when Ross and Gil graduate, but this season should be for development.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

OG Karsen Barnhart

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 16 offensive guard, No. 266 nationally

Barnhart was the No. 7 player in Michigan last year and despite being the fourth-ranked offensive lineman in Michigan's class, is still a top 300 overall player nationally.

He's 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs just under 300 pounds, so Barnhart is the type of player whose position could be determined by need. That's a valuable future asset for Warinner, but it shouldn't come into play this year.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

QB Cade McNamara

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 7 pro-style quarterback, No. 268 nationally

Harbaugh continued the trend of landing one stud quarterback in each recruiting class, as McNamara joins 2017 four-star Dylan McCaffrey and 2018 four-star Joe Milton behind Shea Patterson in the quarterback room.

McNamara was the No. 1 player from Nevada and had scholarship offers from Alabama, Notre Dame and Georgia. He's considered more of a reliable, solid player with elite leadership and intangibles more so than a quarterback with elite upside.

Michigan is loaded at quarterback heading into the future. As a result, it would take injuries to Patterson, McCaffrey and Milton early in the season to get McNamara on the field for more than four games.

This is as sure a redshirt as there is on the roster, barring injury.

Redshirt likelihood: Guaranteed

WR Giles Jackson

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 41 wide receiver, No. 303 nationally

As easy as it was to predict a redshirt for McNamara, it's equally as difficult to predict what will happen with Jackson in 2019.

In Jackson, Michigan added an electric, versatile weapon to an offense that promises to better utilize speed in space. It looks like a perfect fit for both sides.

But again, Michigan is loaded at wide receiver, and even in the slot, where Jackson figures to thrive, Sainristil and Bell figure to begin the season ahead of Jackson on the depth chart.

Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis will use Peoples-Jones, Collins and Black on the majority of passing downs, but if the passing game is more prevalent in the offense, he'll need good depth at the position.

Since Jackson is so versatile and offers another elite speed option -- he ran a verified 4.43-second 40-yard dash and a 3.85-second shuttle run -- he'll probably see the field most games for Michigan.

Redshirt likelihood: Unlikely

DE David Ojabo

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 19 strong-side defensive end, No. 314 nationally

Michigan might have gotten a steal in Ojabo, who rose to a four-star recruit and nearly cracked the top 300 even though he's only been playing football for a few years.

Other elite programs, such as Clemson, Notre Dame and Ohio State, realized Ojabo's potential during the recruiting process, but he continued the pipeline of top New Jersey players heading to Ann Arbor.

Since he hasn't been playing football for very long, Ojabo is a raw talent who will take some developing at the college level. He's got the right coaching staff to do so, but with Michigan's depth on the defensive line, he probably won't need to be in the rotation as a true freshman.

Don't be surprised if Ojabo gets into a few games this year, but he should be a redshirt candidate.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

S Quinten Johnson

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 27 safety, No. 316 nationally

Daxton Hill was the star safety of the 2019 class, but Michigan also landed a near-top-300 player in Quinten Johnson.

He was the No. 3 player from Washington, D.C., and chose Michigan over Alabama, so Johnson could definitely force his way into the mix early in his college career. Will that be this season? It doesn't seem likely.

Michigan has Josh Metellus as a surefire starter and Daxton Hill, Brad Hawkins, J'Marick Woods and Jaylen Kelly-Powell fighting for reps as starters and backups.

It's not impossible that both of Michigan's 2019 safety commits are starting as early as 2020, but it won't be this season.

Redshirt likelihood: Likely

TE Erick All

Recruiting ranking: 4-star, No. 13 tight end, No. 346 nationally

Harbaugh has always been known as a coach who loves to involve tight ends in his offense, especially as part of the passing game. Their usage might decrease under Gattis, but All is the type of weapon who certainly still has a place.

All can block, but he's a tight end who can basically play receiver. He was a very good pass catcher in high school, and as a result, should fit into Gattis' passing plans in the future.

That probably won't be in 2019, though.

No. 1 tight end Zach Gentry moved on to the NFL, but Michigan still has veterans Sean McKeon and Nick Eubanks to take the majority of the snaps.

Former four-star recruit Mustapha Muhammad is also fresh off a redshirt season and could be ready to step in as a pass-catching tight end. He was the No. 6 player at the position in 2018 and a top 200 player nationally.

All is a good fit for Gattis, and as an early enrollee, he has a leg up on some of the other true freshmen in terms of early playing time. But as the only tight end in the 2019 class, Michigan shouldn't need to burn a year of eligibility.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

DE Mike Morris

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 27 strong-side defensive end, No. 396 nationally

Morris wasn't a typical three-star prospect, with offers from top programs such as Clemson and Oklahoma. He chose Michigan over the top three in-state schools -- Florida State, Florida and Miami.

While he already has good size for a defensive end, Morris needs time in a college strength program, according to high school scouts.

Michigan can give him that opportunity without forcing him on the field as a true freshman. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the field late in the season, though.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

CB D.J. Turner

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 40 cornerback, No. 400 nationally

For the No. 40 cornerback in the country, Turner certainly had an impressive recruitment.

Everyone wanted the IMG Academy product, as he had offers from all four College Football Playoff participants -- Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma -- as well as Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Penn State and in-state powerhouses Florida State and Florida.

A combination of size and speed is what drew schools to Turner. He's listed at 6 feet tall and ran a verified 4.62-second 40-yard dash and 4.12-second shuttle run at The Opening Finals.

Turner is one of the under-the-radar three-star prospects who could make early noise for Michigan, but the staff would probably still prefer to give him a year to develop.

Redshirt likelihood: Likely

LB Charles Thomas

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 26 inside linebacker, No. 507 nationally

There was a major disparity between Thomas' ranking in the Composite Rankings and 247 Sports' rankings, as he was a four-star and the No. 3 player in Georgia in the latter.

He was the first commit in the 2019 class, announcing his pledge to Michigan in June 2017.

Michigan didn't take an inside linebacker in 2018, and Thomas is the only one in this class, so he has a chance to play early in his career.

Ross, McGrone and Anthony figure to be ahead of him in the current depth chart, though, so if he plays in 2019, it'll likely be on special teams.

Redshirt likelihood: Likely

OG Zach Carpenter

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 33 offensive guard, No. 554 nationally

This was another impressive recruiting win by Warinner, as Carpenter was predicted by experts to be a Clemson lean.

In the two weeks leading up to Carpenter's Michigan pledge, all seven 247 Sports crystal ball predictions favored Clemson, yet the Wolverines obviously came out on top.

Carpenter could be a guard or a center down the line for Warinner, but that probably won't be for a year or two, and certainly not while Bredeson, Onwenu and Cesar Ruiz are healthy.

Barring injury, this is a redshirt season.

Redshirt likelihood: Guaranteed

OT Jack Stewart

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 43 offensive tackle, No. 573 nationally

Stewart is the sixth and final member of the 2019 offensive line class.

High school scouts praise Stewart's versatility, and that will help him get in the mix earlier in his career than if he was limited to just one spot on the offensive line.

Michigan has so much depth, though, and a couple of his classmates are likely closer to being ready if the need arises this season.

Redshirt likelihood: Guaranteed

WR Mike Sainristil

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 59 cornerback, No. 595 nationally

If Michigan's coaches and quarterbacks are to be believed this off-season, Sainristil was definitely the steal of the 2019 recruiting class.

Despite being the No. 1 player in Massachusetts, Sainristil was a three-star cornerback as a recruit.

When he got to Michigan, Sainristil was converted to the offensive side of the ball, and it sounds like he'll be the No. 1 slot receiver in Gattis' new offense.

Enrolling early certainly helped Sainristil, whose stock never stopped rising throughout the summer. By the time most of the 2019 class got to campus, he had cemented himself as one of the team's top five receivers.

Redshirt likelihood: No chance

DE Gabe Newburg

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 51 weak-side defensive end, No. 773 nationally

Newburg is a player Michigan identified early in the recruiting process, and he stuck with his commitment even after both of his primary recruiters bolted for Ohio State this off-season.

Enrolling early is an advantage for Newburg in his quest for early playing time, but Michigan's defensive line depth is a major roadblock. He could be part of the rotation because of his strength and motor, but it seems unlikely to be this season.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

ATH George Johnson III

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 60 athlete, No. 876 nationally

Another weapon with good speed for Gattis, Johnson is expected to be a wide receiver or all-purpose back at Michigan.

He ran verified a 4.55-second 40-yard dash and 4.32-second shuttle run last year. Johnson is a very good athlete who played quarterback in high school, but he'll probably need some time to polish his skills as a receiver.

Gattis is looking to get as many playmakers on the field as possible, so don't count Johnson out completely. It seems like 2020 is a more likely time for his emergence, though.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

WR Quintel Kent

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 116 wide receiver, No. 958 nationally

Kent has good speed and decent size for a wide receiver, but will probably be buried by Michigan's wide receiver depth in 2019.

High school scouts think he could be a factor in the return game in the future. This year, Michigan has plenty of returner options.

Kent shouldn't be completely counted out because he's another fast offensive weapon, but the plan is likely to save a year of eligibility.

Redshirt likelihood: Very likely

S Joey Velazquez

Recruiting ranking: 3-star, No. 88 safety, No. 1,039 nationally

Michigan doesn't land many players from Columbus, Ohio, and those players rarely guarantee wins over the hometown Buckeyes before even stepping foot on the field.

Well, Velazquez clearly isn't like most players.

He was ranked outside the top 1,000 nationally and only had one other Big Ten offer -- Indiana.

But Michigan's coaches see him as a potential VIPER in the future, and he looks like the type of player who could be excellent on special teams coverage units.

He won't see many snaps on defense this season, but Velazquez might play more than a few games on special teams.

Redshirt likelihood: Leaning toward likely

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