5 Michigan defensive players that can create an impact in 2024 CFB season ft. Mason Graham

Mason Graham, Will Johnson, and Makari Paige are among Michigan
Mason Graham, Will Johnson and Makari Paige are among Michigan's top defensive players in 2024

The Michigan defensive players helped build the top defense in the country last season on their way to winning the College Football Playoff national championship. After losing players such as Kris Jenkins, Junior Colson, Mike Sainristil and Jaylen Harrell to the NFL draft, many wonder if Michigan can return to its outstanding defensive form in 2023.

Here is a look at five Michigan defensive players who could have a major impact on the team's 2024 season.


5 Michigan defensive players that can create an impact in 2024

#1. Will Johnson, CB

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan
NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan

Will Johnson will return as one of the top Michigan defensive players in 2024 after finishing last season with four passes defended, 27 total tackles and four interceptions. He is back for his third season with the Wolverines and continues to be one of the leaders of Michigan's secondary.

Johnson was a freshman All-American in 2022, first-team All-Big Ten in 2023 and winner of the defensive MVP award in Michigan's national title win last season. He is now at the front of the line to lead the Wolverines secondary after Mike Sainristil was selected by the Washington Commanders in Round 2 of the 2024 NFL draft.


#2. Makari Paige, S

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Alabama at Michigan
NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Alabama at Michigan

Michigan defensive player Makari Paige returns at safety as a fifth-year senior in 2024. Paige ranked fifth on the team in total tackles last season with 41, along with two passes defended and one fumble recovery.

Paige returns to start at strong safety and will pair with another top Michigan defensive player, free safety Quinten Johnson. Paige was a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2022 and 2023.


#3. Kenneth Grant, DT

Michigan DL #78 Kenneth Grant
Michigan DL #78 Kenneth Grant

Kenneth Grant is one of the returning Michigan defensive players on its dominant defensive line. Grant will be back for another season on the interior defensive line after recording 5.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and one fumble recovery in 2023.

He showed his elite versatility by also batting down five passes and recording one interception in 2023. Grant and Mason Graham will return as a pair at the defensive tackle spots to wreak havoc in the opposing team's backfield.


#4. Mason Graham, DT

Michigan DT #55 Mason Graham
Michigan DT #55 Mason Graham

Mason Graham also returns to the Wolverines defensive front after two seasons at defensive tackle. Graham finished fourth on the team in 2023 with 7.5 tackles for loss and added a career-high 3.0 sacks. He batted down one pass last season and finished with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

He was first-team All-Big Ten in 2023 and also earned Rose Bowl Defensive MVP honors after the Wolverines defeated Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal. He was a force during that game and tallied four total tackles and one tackle for loss.


#5. Josiah Stewart, EDGE

Michigan DE #5 Josaiah Stewart
Michigan DE #5 Josaiah Stewart

Josaiah Stewart returns for his second season as one of the top returning Michigan defensive players after transferring from Coastal Carolina in 2023. Stewart is a top defensive prospect for the 2025 NFL draft and is looking to build on his impressive 5.5 sacks from last season.

Stewart had 38 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and two pass deflections last season off the edge and earned himself an All-Big Ten honorable mention selection.


Which Michigan defensive players do you think will have the biggest impact in 2024? Let us know your predictions in the comment section.

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