Two key defensive players are expected back for Michigan football this fall, sources tell MLive, providing much-needed experience and leadership to a unit ravaged by injury this past fall.
Defensive tackle Donovan Jeter and linebacker Josh Ross are both planning to return to the Wolverines for the 2021 season, utilizing an extra year of eligibility provided by the COVID-19 abbreviated schedule this past fall.
While neither player has publicly announced their decision, Jeter and Ross have not entered the NCAA transfer portal nor declared for the 2021 NFL draft, which they are both eligible for.
Subscribers of MLive’s “Wolverine Confidential” subtext service were informed of the news Monday evening.
Jeter, a senior, has appeared in 24 games over the last three seasons. His most productive season yet came this past fall, when he started four games and had 11 tackles, a pass deflection and fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown.
The 6-foot-3, 318-pound Jeter will provide Michigan additional experience if it chooses to continue with a four-man front, an added depth behind Christopher Hinton should the defense revert to a three-down linemen front. The Beaver Falls, Pa., native redshirted his freshman season in 2017, leaving him as many as two years of additional eligibility left.
Meanwhile, Ross’ return might be as important, if not more, to a linebacking corps that lost Cameron McGrone to the NFL. Ross, also a senior, has played all four years at Michigan but is choosing to take advantage of a fifth year after the NCAA said it wouldn’t count 2020 toward eligibility.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Ross has 36 appearances and 10 starts under his belt, was named a team captain by Michigan in 2020 and has experience playing both inside linebacker positions. The Southfield, Mich., native and Michael Barrett return as the only two linebackers on the roster with starting experience.
As it stands currently, both players are expected to have their position coaches back. Defensive line coach Shaun Nua recently signed a contract extension with Michigan, head coach Jim Harbaugh announced, while linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary was retained amid a staff shuffle. However, reports say Jean-Mary was expected to interview for a job with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday.
Jeter and Ross join a growing number of defensive players planning their return to Michigan in 2021. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in the fall, says he’s coming back; as has safety Brad Hawkins, who joins Daxton Hill.
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