Maize&BlueReview – Position Breakdown: Security

In our position breakdown series, we take a look at each Michigan Football position group as spring practice draws to a close.

How does the current depth map change?
What are the storylines or things you should see throughout the summer and eventually of course the season?
What is the X factor, whether it’s a player, coach or situation that could change the look of the group?

Let’s talk about the backend of the secondary.



Michigan is returning all of its production to safety, led by Rod Moore, possibly the nation’s best all-around safety contractor. Moore was a surprise breakthrough starter for Daxton Hill in 2021 as a backup/fill-in. The versatile defender excelled in several positions on the field in 2022.

There aren’t many better stories on the Michigan list than Makari Paige. Unlike Moore, Paige didn’t have a great introduction as a freshman in his 2020 season. His role took a big step back in 2021, but he fought back and eventually won RJ Moten’s starting job. Moten is still positioned to play a unique role on the team in 2023. Michigan often uses three safeties, and as a safety/LB-like hybrid, Moten is better than most in the box.

Kaden Kolesar and Damani Dent return from season-ending injuries in 2022 to add valuable depth. Quintin Johnson did very well as a backup last season and should be a valuable part of the rotation this season as well. Keon Sabb is set to be the 4th safety and is just too good to keep the field away. Michigan added newcomer DJ Waller during the signing and just recently got former Notre Dame member Brandyn Hillman on board. This group is one of the strengths of the 2023 squad and appears to be very well placed for the years to come.


Moore is one of the most valuable players on the team in 2023, but his backup needs to see the field this season. Keon Sabb was a dynamic athlete in the 2022 class and while he didn’t see the field much last year, his talent and ability means he’s poised to contribute this year.

Sabb is a great body security that can play zone or lineup in man coverage. His physicality allows him to get into the box and also play as a hybrid linebacker, either affecting the running game or blitzing the passer. This defense thrives on versatility, and Sabb is as versatile as it gets. He’s very reminiscent of the Viper position occupied by players like Jabrill Peppers and Khaleke Hudson when Linebackers coach Chris Patridge was last in Ann Arbor. Sabb likely won’t take Moore’s or Paige’s job, but with a coaching staff that gains by leveraging his roster’s strengths, Sabb is one player who needs to make a big impact in 2023.

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