The Wolverine

February 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2022 BY ANTHONY BROOME DEPARTURES None \RETURNING Senior Jake Moody Moody won the Lou Groza Award in 2021 as the nation's best kicker, the first to do so in program history. He was 23 of 25 on field goals and 56 of 56 on extra points in 2021. Moody officially announced his return Jan. 15 with a social media post that simply said: "Those who stay …" Redshirt freshman Tommy Doman He entered the program as a five-star kicking prospect per Kohl's Kicking and Kornblue Kicking rankings. He did not see the field in 2021 but will be a key special teams piece sooner rather than later. Redshirt sophomore William Wagner The Alpharetta, Ga., native has han- dled the long snaps in 20 games over the last two seasons. The 2022 campaign will be his first on scholarship. RETURNERS Sophomore Blake Corum handled 12 kickoff returns last season for 304 yards (25.3 average). Sophomore AJ Henning had seven returns for 177 yards and a score (25.3). Corum was the primary returner when healthy during the 2021 season. Senior Ronnie Bell opened 2021 as Michigan's punt returner, but tore his ACL on his only attempt in the opener. Henning primarily filled the role the rest of the sea- son with 29 runbacks for 274 yards (9.4). NEWCOMERS None 2022 LOOK AHEAD 2022 ANALYSIS Pound for pound, this might be Michigan's strongest phase of the game. Special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh helmed one of the best kicking rooms in the country. The snaps from Wagner were tight and on the money throughout the year. The coverage units were nearly flawless, ranking first nationally in kickoff return defense (12.1 aver- age) and 19th on punt runbacks (3.9). He had fake punts and kickoff return trickery dialed up from things they saw on film. It is hard to nitpick any- thing about this group. Given that it should look the same in 2022, this will again be a strength for the Wolverines. If there is an area for concern, it would be in the return game. Hen- ning frequently played with fire and made some questionable decisions. Of course, he would not have been thrown into the role had Bell not torn his ACL in Week 1. Jim Harbaugh has never been concerned about using his best players on special teams, but Bell's situation could be a cautionary tale. It will be interesting to see if he takes that job back or if the coaching staff protects him coming off the injury. DEFENSIVE BACKS (CONT.) Sophomore Jordan Morant The four-star prospect from the 2020 recruiting class played in eight games this season and recorded one tackle while primarily getting snaps on special teams. Redshirt freshman Eamonn Dennis Dennis got into three games in 2021, all in non-conference play on special teams. Redshirt freshman Ja'Den McBurrows McBurrows entered the program as a three-star recruit in the 2021 class but is a name that was mentioned as impres- sive behind the scenes. Keep an eye on him as a breakout candidate in 2022. NEWCOMERS Freshman Will Johnson Johnson is the crown jewel of the 2022 recruiting class and a five-star prospect that will see the field early at corner- back. The Grosse Pointe native and early enrollee is the No. 23 overall player in the country per the On3 Consensus. Freshman Keon Sabb The Wolverines rode the momentum of their play in 2021 to pull Sabb away from Clemson. He is the No. 102 overall prospect in the 2022 cycle and could work his way into the safety rotation quickly. Freshman Zeke Berry Berry was another massive safety get for the program in December. The Con- cord, Calif., prospect is rated as the No. 60 overall player in the country by Freshman Kody Jones The four-star prospect rates as the No. 270 player in the 2022 class in the On3 rankings. Freshman Myles Pollard The Brentwood, Tenn., product was the second cornerback the Wolverines pulled from Tennessee (with Jones). At 6-2, 185 pounds, Michigan likes the mold it has to work with here in the three-star prospect. Freshman Damani Dent Primarily recruited by linebackers coach George Helow, the Jacksonville, Fla., native is a three-star recruit and the No. 741 player in the 2022 class. Graduate senior Brad Robbins The two-time All-Big Ten honoree announced he would return for a sixth season in Ann Arbor. He served as U-M's lone punter in 2021 with 45 at- tempts for 2,085 yards, good for an average of 46.3 yards per kick. He didn't have enough attempts to qualify for the NCAA lead- ers, but his clip would've tied for 11th in the land. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL SPECIAL TEAMS

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