New Michigan head coach Sherrone Moore will have to replace multiple key members of the Wolverines’ defensive coaching staff.
Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, who has been expected to follow Jim Harbaugh to the Los Angeles Chargers since they hired Harbaugh in January, officially said goodbye to Michigan via social media on Tuesday. He was officially named the Chargers’ defensive coordinator just a couple of hours later.
Nothing but love to everyone at Michigan, especially the players. We had a great journey together. pic.twitter.com/fZMAWEJIHn— Jesse Minter (@Coach_Minter) February 6, 2024
Minter’s post came just minutes after NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that defensive line coach Mike Elston would also be leaving Ann Arbor to join Harbaugh’s staff in Los Angeles.
Michigan DL coach Mike Elston is expected to take the same job with the #Chargers, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 6, 2024
Elston, who previously coached at Notre Dame from 2010-2021, played an integral role in the Wolverines success the last two seasons. Now he follows Jim Harbaugh to L.A. pic.twitter.com/MQaUcoFS86
Their departures mean that Michigan will have three new coordinators and at least four new assistant coaches in 2024. Special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh did not end up following his father to Los Angeles, but he left Ann Arbor anyway to take the same role with the Seattle Seahawks. Moore has already promoted quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell to take over his old job as offensive coordinator, while former special teams analyst J.B. Brown was promoted to replace Harbaugh.
Michigan also lost former director of strength and conditioning Ben Herbert to Jim Harbaugh’s staff in Los Angeles. Justin Tress, who worked alongside Herbert for the past six years, was promoted to director of strength and conditioning to replace Herbert.
The Wolverines are now in need of a new defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and tight ends coach, as former tight ends coach Grant Newsome was promoted to offensive line coach, a role previously held by Moore as offensive coordinator. Harbaugh is also reportedly pursuing Michigan co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale, which would leave the Wolverines with no returning coaches on defense.
Minter and Elston were both at Michigan for the past two seasons. Under their leadership, Michigan had the best defense in all of college football in 2023, leading the FBS in both points allowed per game (10.4) and yards allowed per game (247). That defense led the way for the Wolverines to go 15-0 and win the national championship.
Michigan’s new defensive coordinator will have to replace seven starters from that defense: defensive ends Jaylen Harrell and Braiden McGregor, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, linebackers Michael Barrett and Junior Colson and cornerbacks Mike Sainristil and Josh Wallace.
The Wolverines still project to have one of the nation’s most talented defenses with several returning stars including defensive tackles Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant, cornerback Will Johnson and safeties Rod Moore and Makari Paige. But they’ll have a mostly if not entirely brand new defensive coaching staff.