Michigan Wolverines Will Johnson on leadership new position coach

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Though the defensive side of the ball for Michigan football will see a ton of continuity personnel-wise entering 2024, there’s a whole new coaching staff on defense, and some younger players who will need to step up.

The stars of the show are Mason Grant and Kenneth Grant up front, but perhaps the biggest star on the team entering 2024 is junior cornerback Will Johnson, who’s expected to be among the best at his position this season (as he was a year ago). But Johnson has a new position coach after losing beloved secondary coach Steve Clinkscale, who followed Jim Harbaugh to the NFL this offseason.

Enter LaMar Morgan, the former Louisiana safety who most recently was the defensive coordinator at his alma mater, yet chose to leave it to come to Ann Arbor. Now that Johnson has a few weeks of experience being coached by Morgan, what does he bring to the table?

“Yeah, he’s definitely a really smart guy,” Johnson said. “You can tell he’s coached a lot of football he’s very genuine, very open. Loves to work with us, all about development.

“I think that’s huge for the young guys, just having a coach like him that’s very open and willing to work with them and really pick their brains a lot. So I think that’s helped guys like Jyaire (Hill) and DJ (Waller) excel, take that next step.”

Assuming Johnson has things locked down on his end in terms of understanding what the new coaching staff wants, there’s still the matter of needing a player or two opposite him to step up.

Josh Wallace and Mike Sainristil are off to the NFL, which created a vacancy both at cornerback on the other side of the field from Johnson as well as nickel. Johnson isn’t leaving everything up to chance, either, as he’s taking a more proactive approach to leadership, helping bring the aforementioned younger players along, knowing the standard that has been set by those veterans who came before him.

“I think just trying to be a better leader on this team this year, being more vocal,” Johnson said. “Tightening down the things that have always been kind of a normal thing. And some of the younger guys that might not know that just keeping that standard of what has been the last few years and just holding the guys to the standard that we’ve had. Just keeping that same mentality every day.”

Fans will get a chance to see the new coaches and younger players on April 20 when Michigan football hosts its annual spring game at The Big House. The game will be nationally televised at noon EDT on Fox.

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