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Michigan OL Karsen Barnhart shows toughness and versatility
Michigan OL Karsen Barnhart shows toughness and versatility

The Wolverine breaks through in the EDGE space of Michigan Football

There are still 52 days until the defending champion Michigan Wolverines Football team takes the field in the opening match on August 31 against State of Fresno. Until then, each day we’ll discuss current events at Michigan and the upcoming season and/or take a look at an important number that correlates with how many days remain until kickoff, be it a player’s jersey number, a year, a date, a score, etc.

Former Michigan offensive lineman Karsen Barnhartnow a rookie with the Los Angeles Chargers after being signed as an undrafted free agent, was not an elite player at UM. However, he played at a high level for several years, starting 31 games in 43 appearances from 2019-23.

During his time at UM, Barnhart played a whopping 2,031 offensive snaps. He played every position on the offensive line except center. Here’s a breakdown of his career snaps:

Left Tackle Left Guard Legal protection Proper Tackle
548 174 219 1,083

Barnhart regularly practiced at different positions, which isn’t ideal for an offensive lineman at this point, but it paid off as he became versatile. Just last season, for example, he started games at three positions – left tackle, right tackle and right guard.

That versatility proved crucial at the end of the season, when Michigan was unanimously voted All-American. Zak Zinter went down with a gruesome leg injury against Ohio State. Barnhart slipped from right tackle to right guard, and Senior Trente Jones was added to the lineup as right tackle.

Barnhart not only helped block a touchdown run for running back Blake Corum On the very next play after Zinter was out, he paved the way for a successful run in the next three games: victories over Iowa in the Big Ten championship game, Alabama in the Rose Bowl, and Washington in the national championship game.

Michigan’s offensive line was considered great—it was a 12-man semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award—but it wasn’t great during the regular season. It even struggled in the Big Ten title game against a fantastic Iowa defense, allowing a season-high four sacks (the same number it allowed against Indiana).

The group used their off month between that game and the Rose Bowl against Alabama to come together, with Barnhart and Jones forming a new right side. Michigan ran for 130 yards and 1 and allowed just 1 tackle for loss in a 27-20 overtime win over the Crimson Tide before paving the way for a season-best and all-time CFP national title (since 2014): 303 rushing yards with 4 touchdowns in a 34-13 triumph over Washington, finishing the season 15-0.

Barnhart was selfless and often played through pain. Once, after sustaining an injury from which he returned a week later, Michigan’s chief Jim Harbaugh called him “tougher than a two-dollar steak.” After all, he comes from Paw Paw, Michigan.

He was tough and good enough that Harbaugh signed him to his new franchise after the draft. He’s fighting for a roster spot this training camp and it would be hard to bet against him.

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By Isla