The Michigan Wolverines dominated the Big Ten in 2021, and a big part of their success was because of the elite play from the offensive line.
The offensive line last season, as you probably are well aware of by this point, won the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the top offensive line. Ryan Hayes, Trevor Keegan, Andrew Vastardis, Zak Zinter and Andrew Steuber were as good as it got in 2021.
With Steuber now in the NFL, the starting right tackle job is up for grabs, as redshirt juniors Trente Jones and Karsen Barnhart are the two leading candidates for the job.
We continue our offseason outlook series today by discussing how Jones wound up in Ann Arbor. We’ll also take a look at the good ole crystal ball and see what the upcoming season may look like for him.
The story is so far
Jones was a highly regarded recruit coming out of Loganville, Georgia in the 2019 class. He was just outside the top-100 overall at No. 108 on 247Sports’ composite and was recruited by other top programs like Florida, Oregon, Florida State, Texas A&M and more. He was also named an Under Armor All-American.
This recruitment ended pretty quick, as he earned his offer from Michigan on Jan. 16, 2018, visited Ann Arbor a month later on Feb. 18 and then committed to Michigan just three days after that visit. Even though he collected other offers throughout the process, he stayed true to his verbal commitment and signed with Michigan during the early signing period.
His first two seasons in Ann Arbor saw Jones mostly taking in mental reps and working on his body with the strength and conditioning team. He appeared in just one game his first two years in college, playing right tackle in the 2020 opener against Minnesota.
Last season, Jones saw a ton more action. He played in all 14 games for the Big Ten Championship winning Wolverines, starting in two of them as the sixth offensive lineman, which was a big part of his role with the 2021 team. He also got snaps at right tackle in games against Western Michigan, Maryland, and Iowa in the Big Ten Title game.
Outlook moving forward
The battle for the right tackle position continues through the summer and fall for Jones and Barnhart. Jones was the leader coming out of spring practice, but Barnhart was reportedly limited during the spring due to injury. Barnhart is expected to be good to go and compete in fall camp for the job, so this one likely won’t be settled until close to the season opener.
All that said, though, it does seem like Jones’ job to lose at this point. He has always been an incredible athlete; he’s just never been able to put everything together and has had the unfortunate circumstance of having a ton of talented veterans ahead of him on the depth chart. But it seems like he is finally ready to take that next step forward and become a part of a unit that hopes to be the first back-to-back Joe Moore Award winner.