In a position of need, the Michigan football team has found a potential solution in the transfer portal.
Oregon State nose tackle Jordan Whittley will be joining the Wolverines as a graduate transfer in 2021, according to an announcement he posted to Twitter. At 6-foot-1 and 358 pounds, the redshirt senior brings size that should be welcome on a defensive line that’s lacked it in recent years.
Whittley’s commitment also adds a layer of depth to a position group that, coming off the departure of Carlo Kemp, doesn’t have much. He’ll likely share time at nose tackle with fifth-year Donovan Jeter and junior Mazi Smith. That depth at nose tackle — if accompanied by growth at defensive tackle between junior Chris Hinton and fifth-year Jess Speight — could go a long way in improving on a run defense that finished 10th in the Big Ten last season.
For Whittley, the transfer concludes a long and winding path through the college football world. Out of high school, he initially signed in 2014 to play running back at San Jose State, though academic issues prevented him from ever enrolling with the Spartans. In 2017 and 2018, he played junior college as a defensive lineman at Laney College in Oakland, CA, where he finished first-team all-conference as a sophomore. He transferred to Oregon State in 2019, where he played his only full season of Division I football and registered 14 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. He was sidelined in 2020 due to a tumor in his heart.
The lack of significant Division I game experience means Whittley is far from a sure success for Michigan. But considering Whittley’s size — and the Wolverines’ own lack of experience on the defensive line — the transfer should be a welcome boost for the shaky Michigan defense.
More likely than not, Whittley will have plenty of chances to prove himself on the field.