Michigan OL Karsen Barnhart: ‘I want to be out there’ playing at tackle

Michigan spring game 2023

Michigan offensive lineman Karsen Barnhart plays during the spring game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 1, 2023.Neil Blake | MLive.com


ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan coaches have been cautious about how they handle the ongoing battles along the offensive line.

More specifically at tackle, where a pair of incoming transfers — former captains with their own track record and resume — have come in and pushed for starting roles.

And while LaDarius Henderson (Arizona State) and Myles Hinton (Stanford) have both earned their stripes so far in practice, there’s been just one tackle — graduate student Karsen Barnhart — to earn the praise of head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I’m just playing my ball,” Barnhart, listed at 6-foot-5 and 316 pounds, told reporters on Friday. “Nothing’s really too different, besides just working every day to be the best I can be and help the team win.”

Barnhart is no stranger to playing time along Michigan’s offensive line, having appeared in 28 career games dating back to his freshman season in 2019. Fifteen of those appearances have been starts — eight at right tackle, five at left tackle, and two at left guard.

The Paw Paw, Mich., native was referred to as Michigan’s “sixth starter” last season, filling as needed and starting the team’s final eight games at right tackle. This season, a bulk of Barnhart’s time in camp has been spent at left tackle, where he is currently vying for starting reps with Henderson.

More: OL Zak Zinter takes new, ‘balcony view’ approach to job up front

“Nothing’s too different. It all feels right at home,” Barnhart said. “It’s great that the room has that (competition), and has 10-plus starters that we have. We have so much depth. You’ve seen it in years past, where the first five that walk out there aren’t the five that walk out there in Game 12, Game 13.”

Barnhart credits Henderson — a former starter at Arizona State, where he started his career at tackle and moved inside to guard — for pushing him in practice, while Hinton gives Trente Jones a run for his money at right tackle.

Still, less than a week ago, it was Harbaugh who praised Barnhart for having “the best camp so far.” Michigan now enters its final week of camp ahead of the season opener on Sept. 2 against East Carolina (Noon, Peacock).

“He wants to be out there and I want to be out there,” Barnhart said of the competition. “I guess that’s a way to push each other. At the same time, if he’s doing something wrong, I’m coaching him up. If I’m doing something wrong, he’s coaching me up. We just play off each other like that.”

In addition to the two tackle spots, Michigan also has an ongoing battle at center — where another transfer, Drake Nugent (Stanford), is pushing Greg Crippen for the starting role. Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore have said the position duals may stretch into the first couple games, suggesting that we may see different players starting and a rotating cast of faces.

Barnhart says he’s fine with it, but maintains his goal is to be among “the first five that walk out there.”

“If it’s the way we go, that’s the way we go,” Barnhart said. “There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m willing — if I have to watch and somebody’s better than me, I’m going to be right there supporting them all the way through. And I hope I get the same respect back.”

Read more on Michigan football:

Michigan’s weight loss leader ‘faster, twitchier,’ ready to erupt on edge

Michigan made a change with the defensive line to help boost pressure

Michigan IDs third receiver, prepping for ‘game-changing’ freshmen to play

Jim Harbaugh isn’t talking NCAA, but will Michigan — and he has a lot to say

Harbaugh’s ‘Michigan Method’ to decide certain starters at U-M

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation. By browsing this site, we may share your information with our social media partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy.