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Michigan's Will Johnson Making Big Strides

The true freshman defensive back has been tested early in his career and he's rising to the challenge.

Coming into the 2022 season, there were plenty of questions surrounding the Michigan defense. How would new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter compare to Mike Macdonald? How do you replace two first-round talents in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo? How do you replace veterans in the secondary like Daxton Hill and Brad Hawkins? Who steps up in a defensive front that is largely untested?

Though it's early and the competition hasn't been stellar, the results look pretty good for Minter and his defense through three weeks. 

One of the bright spots in terms of young talent has been freshman defensive back, Will Johnson. Given his tremendous combination of size, speed and athleticism, it isn't all that surprising to see the former five-star prospect performing well during his first season in Ann Arbor.

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According to PFF College, Johnson has played 14 coverage snaps out of 40 in man coverage - allowing just one reception on four targets. That makes Johnson the No. 2-graded corner in the Big Ten when it comes to man coverage productivity. 

Fellow defensive back Gemon Green has also been incredibly productive during his time on the field, being targeted six times without allowing a single completion through three weeks. That's the most targets without a completion for any defensive back in country, according to PFF College.

It has been that type of production that has propelled Michigan to No. 3 in the country when it comes to passing yards allowed (91.3 YPG). In week one against Colorado State, the Wolverines surrendered 137 yards through the air. In week two against Hawaii, that number dropped to 113 yards though the air. In week three, the UConn Huskies managed just 24 yards through the air all afternoon. 

There's no doubt that Michigan's secondary will be tested in big ways as the schedule goes deeper into conference play, but the early results look promising so far.