Since Michigan Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis’ hiring in 2018, the same message of ‘Speed in Space’ has been touted throughout the program. But interestingly enough, in an interview with 247sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons on the Evaluation U podcast, Gattis mentioned he finds another characteristic more important than how nimble a wide receiver recruit is:
“First and foremost, I’m looking at guys that are natural ball catchers. There’s a difference in the ability to catch a ball and ball skill, and when I talk about anyone could catch a football. I can teach my son how to catch football right in the backyard, you know, but guys that have elite ball skills, they have elite catch radius, those guys that are natural (at) catching the football, they display that catching the ball outside the framework of the body. Whether they’re comfortable with their hands out, extending in front of them, whether they’re comfortable tracking the ball over their shoulder. I want guys that are rebounders and basketball guys that naturally have a great feel for how to attack the ball, especially when it’s in the air. And ball judgment, I think is a key contributor to that deal and the ability to judge a ball downfield... It’s really ball skill, speed, and then balance and body control. That I think the three key elements to make elite receivers.”
This was an interesting tidbit as the Michigan Wolverines wideouts really struggled to catch the ball this past season. According to a piece by Angelique Chenglis of The Detroit News, Michigan wide receivers dropped 12 balls in the Ohio State game alone, including six of eight passes by Shea Patterson in the third quarter. It was certainly something that plagued the position group throughout the season.
While speed may not be the single most important thing to Gattis, he does later mention the significance of the attribute and how it effects play on the field, “There’s a difference between guys that time fast and guys that play fast. We want to find them both.” Gattis told Simmons, “We want to find guys that their timed speed translates over to football speed on the field. I’ve been around some really good receivers in the past that didn’t necessarily play as fast as the eye but they time well.We want guys that have the ability to play with great forward length and got great stride length.”
So how do you build a positional group of differentiating talents together on the field? Gattis says it’s not quite as uniform as you’d expect:
“I don’t believe in a cookie cutter approach. You’ve got to have balancing differences in your room. You know whether that size, speed, you’ve got to have the ability to offset. What you’re lacking in certain areas, whether you have some big guys and you need a little bit more quickness or a little bit more agility, you’ve got to build the room. You got to build the room around your needs, and specifically what fits your offense, so I’ve never been a fan of the cookie cutter approach.”
And the receivers that are on their way up the ranks at Michigan have Gattis pretty juiced, “We’ve got some guys now on our roster we’re excited about here. Giles Jackson, Mike Sainristil, Roman Wilson coming in, AJ Henning; those type of guys that have the ability to be difference makers on the field, wherever and whenever they touch the football.”
With Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell at the top of the depth chart, all of those names will have to fight for playing time in the upcoming practices.
Michigan virtually visits five-star center
According to Jake Weingarten, Juwan Howard and his coaching staff will be virtually meeting with 2021 five-star center Charles Bediako:
Although he is without an offer up to this point, Bediako is called a ‘priority’ for the Wolverines by Weingarten. The No. 21 player in the class according to 247sports hales from Ontario, Canada.
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