June 25, 2024

It’s been exciting to see Michigan football add new players over the past couple of days, and the momentum continued on Saturday morning with the commitment of former UNLV cornerback Ricky Johnson.

Johnson had initially committed to Washington State, but the Wolverines managed to flip his commitment. After visiting on Friday, Michigan football secured the deal with the 6-foot-1, 170-pound corner.

Ricky Johnson has played in 27 career games, including just three in 2022 and a few in 2020, giving him two years of eligibility remaining. He has accumulated four career interceptions and seven pass breakups.

More importantly for Michigan football, Johnson adds valuable depth. Having started multiple seasons for UNLV, he brings experience similar to Aamir Hall, a former FCS All-American cornerback from Albany.

Johnson isn’t highly ranked, and while none of the recent additions alone will significantly elevate Michigan, the team didn’t necessarily need a new starter aside from replacing Rod Moore. Michigan just needed quality depth, which they’ve successfully acquired.

**Where will everyone play?**

Jaden Mangham or Wesley Walker are potential starters at safety, with Mangham likely the best candidate to fill Moore’s shoes.

Walker could be an excellent option at nickel. Keon Sabb also played in the slot in some dime packages, and Walker’s strong coverage skills would fit well there. Although Walker is a safety, his coverage ability makes him versatile for various roles.

Michigan aims to play a lot of sub-package defense, which requires defensive backs who can both cover and tackle—Walker fits this role perfectly.

Former UNLV CB Ricky Johnson commits to Michigan - Maize n Brew

At safety, the Wolverines have Makari Paige, Mangham, Walker, and Quentin Johnson, who collectively played over 2,000 snaps last season, with two earning All-Big Ten honors. At cornerback, they have Will Johnson, Jyaire Hill, Aamir Hall, and Ricky Johnson, plus Myles Pollard and Kody Jones. Zeke Berry and Ja’Den McBurrows are options at nickel.

Berry could also play safety, and McBurrows can play perimeter corner, providing the kind of depth Michigan needs in the secondary. These additions ensure Michigan isn’t relying solely on young players to fill critical roles.

Now, the depth, while not perfect at all three levels of the defense, feels much closer to last season’s level than it did three days ago.

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