Michigan Panthers Sign RB Nate McCrary & Edge Kenny Willekes

Michigan Panthers Sign RB Nate McCrary & Edge Kenny Willekes

The Michigan Panthers have had a busy day in free agency. RB Nate McCrary and Edge Kenny Willekes have signed to the team, just hours after OT Obinna Eze did the same.

RB Nate McCrary

Nate McCrary is an intriguing signing, and one that is quite important for Michigan. McCrary played his collegiate ball at Saginaw Valley State, where he had a few excellent years.

In 2019, McCrary ended up posting 1,060 rushing yards, averaging 6.3 YPC. He added 10 touchdowns on the season, proving to be a big-time playmaker for Saginaw’s offense. This campaign earned him First-Team All-GLIAC honors.

Since then, McCrary has bounced around with a couple of NFL teams. He was primarily with the Baltimore Ravens on their practice squad from 2021-2022, but did not see much game action.

He also spent time with the Green Bay Packers, and had signed a futures deal with the Cleveland Browns. Nate was dropped by the Browns’ practice squad on October 31st. While he had a workout with the New York Giants after that, he has remained unsigned.

Now, Nate McCrary brings depth to a Michigan Panthers backfield that needs it. The team recently signed Raymond Calais, but with the loss of Stevie Scott, the team needs more pieces to build around Reggie Corbin.

Edge Kenny Willekes

Kenny Willekes has returned home. The former Michigan State standout is back in his home state, signing with the Panthers for the 2024 season.

Willekes is another excellent pickup for Michigan. He was outstanding in college, especially during his 2017-2019 stretch where he started in 37 of 38 games played.

Across that span, Kenny posted 228 tackles and 24.5 sacks – just absolutely dominating up front. Willekes came out of Michigan State with several NFL teams giving him looks – ultimately signing with the Minnesota Vikings.

Kenny played in several games for Minnesota in 2021, registering 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He was waived by the Vikings this past May – interestingly enough to make room for DC Defenders WR Lucky Jackson.

While he has had several NFL workouts since then, Willekes hasn’t been able to latch onto another roster. Now, he signs with the Michigan Panthers for the 2024 season. The Panthers have been active in signing defensive players, also adding Edge D’Anthony Jones a few weeks back.

Final Thoughts

General Manager Steve Kazor has been on a tear lately. He’s consistently looked to build out this roster with quality, NFL-caliber talent. After a 4-6 record in 2023, Michigan will hope to finally get above the .500 mark.

The USFL-XFL merger is certainly something to keep in mind. The leagues will be playing a combined season in 2024, but we do not have full clarity on which teams are involved. That being said, Michigan is an organization who should be locked in.

What are your thoughts on Nate McCrary signing to Michigan? Will Kenny Willekes be a force in 2024? Let us know down in the comments down below, or join the conversation on Discord!