The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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62 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW FREAK SHOW Young Wideouts Add Big Talent To Established Crew BY JOHN BORTON [ W I D E R E C E I V E R S ] J im Harbaugh says plenty about Michigan football that turns heads these days. When he called U-M freshman wideouts Darrius Clemons, Amorion Walker and Tyler Morris a "freak show" — in a good way — it definitely shattered coachspeak protocol. That's OK. Harbaugh loves the hand Michigan recruiters have dealt them- selves, and he's not shy about letting people know about it. The infusion of talent looms especially heartening when combined with a very strong returning group of pass catchers. Start with senior Cornelius Johnson, the lanky wideout who paced Michigan's production last year. Add in the speedy junior Roman Wilson, multi-talented junior A.J. Henning, big-play capable sophomore Andrel Anthony and sophomore Cristian Dixon, and the base already looked very solid. Bring back fifth-year senior captain Ronnie Bell, who lost 2021 to a knee injury, and there's an instant injection of leadership and playmaking. Supplement with ridiculously talented, athletic freshmen, and it's no wonder why Michigan quarterbacks are smiling these days. "It's a great group of receivers," Harbaugh said. "If you're a quarterback, the receiver room … picture this," Harbaugh said. "They're all back, includ- ing Ronnie Bell. Every receiver is back, and three 'freak shows' that are incoming freshmen in Darrius Clemons, Tyler Morris and Amorion Walker. "Walker is doing some incredible things. He ran a 6.25 [second] three-cone, had a 43-inch vertical jump. All three of those re- ceivers are outstanding. "All the quarterbacks are going to have a bunch of great targets to throw to. Guys that are proven, guys that are coming in." Those U-M quarterbacks threw for 3,127 yards last season, set up by a rushing attack that churned out 3,001 yards. There's no reason to believe they'll take a step back at this point. SUFFICIENT TALENT TO MAKE A BOLD MOVE How good and how deep did the Wolverines look to Michigan's coaching staff this spring? Good enough to free up their No. 3 receiver from last season, senior Mike Sain- ristil, to get extensive time at defensive back. He looked good there in the spring, according to multiple reports — good enough to get time on defense come fall. That doesn't mean he can't still see snaps on offense, where he snagged 22 passes for 312 yards and a pair of touchdowns last year. It just means wideout at Michigan right now has talent to spare. "You've got the veterans, who've all gotten better it seems," noted Michigan radio play-by-play man Doug Karsch. "You've got a productive receiver in Mike Sainristil that you had the luxury of switching him to defense and having him help out there. "Look at what they have coming back. Cornelius Johnson has just gotten better and better. Roman Wilson with his great speed, and A.J. Henning, who is slippery. They've taken a look at him at the running back spot. "It just feels like they've got three waves of wide receivers that can come at you and make plays." Johnson made a huge play against Ohio State, securing a 37-yard bomb and skid- QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Ron Bellamy (2nd year at U-M, 1st with wide receivers; coached safeties during 2021 season). Returning Starters: Ronnie Bell (17 career starts), Cornelius Johnson (17), Roman Wilson (5). Departing Starters: None. Projected New Starter: None. Top Reserves: Andrel Anthony, AJ Henning. Wait Until 2023: Cristian Dixon. Newcomers: Darrius Clemons, Tyler Morris, Amorion Walker. Moved In: None. Moved Out: None. Rookie Impact: Clemons. Most Improved Player: Anthony. Best Pro Prospect: Bell. Senior Cornelius Johnson made a huge play against Ohio State, securing a 37-yard bomb, and he led the Wolverines with 39 catches for 620 yards and 3 touch- downs last season. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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