The Michigan Wolverines officially reported for camp today. After eight grueling months of speculation, burner accounts, and fan conjecture, the takes are about to reach white-hot levels in the final weeks leading into the first game of the season.
“Blake Corum will win the Heisman!”
“J.J. McCarthy is Jesus without the carpentry!”
“Michigan will go 15-0!”
Let’s get in on the action. High praise and goals have been circulating this team for months, but how high is too high? How bold can we get while staying within shouting distance of reason?
Here are three increasingly bold predictions for Team 144.
BOLD: Michigan has a 1,000-yard receiver
On the surface, this doesn’t seem that bold. Hell, some schools have a different 1,000-yard receiver every season! But Michigan isn’t like most schools. Over 143 seasons of collegiate football, only nine players have broken the 1,000-yard barrier for the Wolverines. Nine.
The last Michigan wide receiver to break the barrier shattered it ten years ago. Jeremy Gallon – who was 5-foot-8 with cleats on – set the single-season program record at Michigan in 2013 with 1,373 yards. But since then, receivers have struggled to consistently produce.
Under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the top three receiver seasons have been:
- 2022 Ronnie Bell: 889 yards
- 2016 Amara Darboh: 862 yards
- 2015 Jehu Chesson: 764 yards
But with quarterback J.J. McCarthy returning for his second season as a starter and with countless chemistry reps between himself and his top three returning receiving targets, a new name should top this list. But who?
Tight end Colston Loveland is a long shot. If Loveland breaks 1,000 yards he will become a top-five NFL Draft pick in 2025. Not discounting the sophomore, but that’s a little too bold.
Wide receiver Cornelius Johnson should be the favorite here. CJ has over 1,400 career receiving yards and has never averaged less than 15 yards per reception. However, I am going a different route.
Roman Wilson is the fastest player on the team and a natural deep-threat wide receiver. Although Wilson only has 918 career receiving yards, he will exceed his first three years of production in 2023 when he breaks 1,000.
BOLDER: Michigan does not go undefeated but wins the CFP by 14+
Over the last two seasons, Michigan has found itself battling in one-score games that have no business being one-score. The majority of the time the Wolverines found their way out of trouble and secured a victory — but without Jake Moody, is this trend assured to continue?
Without “Money Moody,” I think Michigan will drop one game this season. This isn’t a knock against Louisville transfer kicker James Turner; it’s just that replacing the best kicker in 143 years of Michigan football is a tall task.
I don’t know which team Michigan loses to. It could be a tricky road game like Nebraska under the first-year guidance of Matt Rhule ready to make a statement. Or, the logical choice would be against Penn State in Happy Valley, but whoever it is, a trip-up loss feels overdue for the Wolverines.
However, once the loss happens, Michigan is going to go scorched Earth. Think of Georgia following the 2021 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship. Think of 2017 Alabama after losing the Iron Bowl, or think of John Wick following the loss of his dog.
Following the loss, the Wolverines are going to go on a war path that will not be limited to the regular season. A motivated Harbaugh and a pissed-off, focused Team 144 will ride this revenge tour to a two-touchdown victory in the national championship.
Now we’re getting spicy.
BOLDEST: Michigan defender challenges Hutchinson’s sack record
Two years ago, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson set the single-season program sack record with 14. Hutch was complemented on the other side of the pass rush by David Ojabo, who also chipped in 11. The Wolverines don’t have premiere edge rushers at this level on the roster, but the pass rushers will benefit from something Hutch and Ojabo did not.
Michigan’s interior defensive line is perhaps the deepest position group on the roster. Kris Jenkins, Mason Graham, Rayshaun Benny, Kenneth Grant, and Cam Goode are going to create ample opportunities on the edge because of the havoc they will create and the attention they will command.
With a constant need for double teams on a collapsing interior, Jaylen Harrell, Derrick Moore, Josaiah Stewart, and Braiden McGregor are going to be fed a steady diet of rattled and lonely offensive tackles. It will still be up to them to win these one-on-one battles, but unlike Michigan teams in recent memory, these edges are complemented to the fullest extent between the tackles.
If I had to pick one player in particular to challenge Hutch’s mark, Derrick Moore is the choice.
What are your three boldest takes for the season? Will Team 144 be the greatest Michigan team of all time? Or simply the best team of all time period? Could Rod Moore challenge the interception record? Could Donovan Edwards break 2,000 all-purpose yards?
Sound off in the comments, but be sure to bring the heat.