Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with five reasons why Jim Harbaugh should stay at Michigan, a way-too-early preseason All-American defense for 2022 and a comparison of NFL playoff quarterbacks to some college stars.
Jim Harbaugh is rumored to be very interested in the Las Vegas Raiders job and it is intriguing with the franchise’s talent like Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller and a stout defense. But he should stay at Michigan and in college football. Here are five reasons why:
1. You’re a true Michigan man — Maybe this shouldn’t be the first and best reason but Harbaugh is Michigan through and through and we all know how much support the administration gives Michigan men. He’s not going to get that same level of support and control in the NFL and he knows that.
2. The NFL wasn’t for you — Yes, Harbaugh had success with the 49ers but essentially he was driven out of the organization and the league because he couldn’t get along with the other egos and players who made more than him. In college he’s the boss and can command better respect without butting heads with a general manager. His last go-round in the NFL didn’t have a great finish.
3. You have the right staff in place — You purged your staff after the 2020 season and you have all the pieces in place to be successful and make another run at the playoff. Add in new defensive line coach Mike Elston who is a fellow Michigan man and someone you know and trust and you have the best staff you’ve had since you arrived in Ann Arbor.
4. The portal can change things immediately — The portal can be an annoyance as can NIL. But it can also be a boon for a team on the cusp. Look at what it did for Ohio State with Justin Fields and Trey Sermon and you just lost to a Georgia team where the MVP of the game was Clemson transfer Derion Kendrick. One or two players can instantly change your football team so rebuilds take less time and those looking to replace stars like Aidan Hutchinson and the like can now do so quicker.
5. Finish what you started — You beat Ohio State. You made it to the playoff. You’ve finally earned the respect of the college football world and the national media. Leaving Michigan now would put the program in a large hole and set it back a few years. You make great money so the NFL isn’t alluring for that reason. Stay and finish what you started.
Last week I unveiled my way-too-early 2022 preseason All-American offense, so here’s a look at the defense led by arguably the best player in college football.
Edge: Will Anderson, Alabama – Far and away the easiest selection on this list, Anderson was the best defensive player in the country as a sophomore, leading the nation in sacks and tackles for loss. It was a shame that he wasn’t a Heisman Trophy finalist. Don’t be surprised if he’s in New York next year and potentially becoming the first defensive player to win it since Charles Woodson.
Edge: Nick Herbig, Wisconsin – A really tough call here between Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State) Zach Harrison (Ohio State) and Herbig, I chose the Badgers sophomore here because of his uncanny pass-rushing ability. He holds PFF’s highest pash rush grade among returning Power Five players, and despite being undersized he routinely gets in the backfield with ease.
DT: Bryan Bresee, Clemson – Bresee had a bit of a sophomore slump in comparison to his huge true freshman season because of injury, but he’s a no-brainer on this list. The former five-star is an absolute wrecking ball for opposing offenses, penetrating with ease and using his immense strength to toss offensive linemen and become a true disruptor against the run and the pass.
DT: Calijah Kancey, Pitt – Like I’ve been saying for a while, Kancey is the next great defensive tackle for the Panthers and he backed it up this year, earning PFF’s second-highest grade among all Power Five defensive interior players. His stats may not wow you, but he’s simply dominant.
LB: Drake Thomas, NC State – PFF’s top returning linebacker, Thomas finished the season with 100 tackles, 16 TFL, three interceptions and six sacks. He’s one of the most under-the-radar gems in the country.
LB: Jack Campbell, Iowa – Campbell was the heart and soul of a really strong Iowa defense and finished top 10 in the country with 10.2 tackles per game. He finished the season with 143 tackles and had the second-highest PFF tackling grade among all returning Power Five linebackers.
CB: Kelee Ringo, Georgia – We all saw what he can do in the national title game, but he was steady the entire season on Georgia’s defense. Ringo returns as the leader of a secondary that should again be outstanding.
CB: Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M – PFF’s second highest-graded cornerback from this past season, Johnson uses his long frame to keep receivers off their game. He allowed only 5.6 yards per reception against him in 2021 and also earned the third-highest grade from PFF against the run for all cornerbacks in FBS.
S: Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame – The Northwestern transfer was truly phenomenal in 2020 before injuries plagued his sophomore campaign. Now, he heads to Notre Dame who have produced some of the top safeties in the country in the past few seasons. He’ll be an absolute star in Marcus Freeman‘s scheme.
S: Andrew Mukuba, Clemson – Mukuba was arguably the best true freshman in the country on the defensive side of the ball this year. He enters next year with the second-highest PFF grade of all returning safeties, buoyed by his strong tackling abilities. His 93.6 percent tackle conversion rate is the second-best among all players returning at the position.
Flex: Jordan Battle, Alabama – Battle is the top-rated returning safety in Power Five, but he’s so much more than just a safety. He routinely lines up as a slot corner and uses his prodigious athleticism to lock up receivers. He allowed only 6.6 yards per reception and a 52 percent completion percentage when targeted, tops in the nation for Power Five safeties.
The quarterback play from this past weekend was all anyone talked about whether it was amazing performances from Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes or duds from Ryan Tannehill and Jimmy Garappolo. There are a three players in college football that remind me of a three of the stars of this weekend. I’m not comparing anyone to Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers because that’s just not fair.
Matt Stafford — Quinn Ewers immediately comes to mind here because of the arm talent. Both hail from Texas and had similar builds coming out of high school but it’s the howitzer of a right arm on Ewers that reminds me of Stafford way back when. I have no clue if he’ll be a No. 1 overall pick like Stafford but he has the skill level.
Joe Burrow — Burrow is cool under pressure and nothing fazes him and Bryce Young at Alabama has those same traits. They are both Heisman Trophy winners (Young could win it twice) and could both end up as No. 1 overall picks depending on the 2023 NFL Draft. Burrow is obviously taller but it doesn’t matter,; they have the same mannerism under pressure.
Josh Allen — No one is really like Allen but Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall has some of the same traits. He’s not quite as tall or filled out yet but he’s mobile and can drive you crazy with his ability to scramble for a taller and bigger quarterback.