The 2018 Michigan Wolverines wide receiving talent took a hit after a report came out that Kekoa Crawford will be transferring. Crawford was third on the team in receiving yards with 182 last season.
The good news for Michigan is their leading receiver through three weeks last season, Tarik Black, has impressed this spring.
Harbaugh told reporters at the ‘Best of the West’ recruiting event, “[Black] had a really good spring” and “both Tarik and Donovan [are] number one wide receivers based on what they did with the spring.”
Last season ended after just three weeks for Black when he broke his foot in the 4th quarter against Air Force. To that point, Black led Michigan receivers in both receptions (11) and receiving yards (149). He seemed to be improving with every game, and was a true freshman rising star in the Big Ten.
Black had the capability to separate himself from corners and slip in between the coverage to make big plays. He scored the first touchdown of the season with a 46-yard touchdown against Florida. He would also have two other receptions of 20+ yards in his three games.
Black’s injury put a real dent into the Wolverines’ receiving numbers. After week two, Michigan wide outs failed to score another touchdown. While some of this was on poor offensive line and quarterback play, the wide receivers failed to separate themselves from some of the top cornerbacks that resided in the Big Ten.
To add onto the woes, Black was one of only three receivers who scored a touchdown for Michigan in 2017. The other two were Grant Perry and the now transferring Crawford. This is something that will have to change for Michigan to be successful in the Big Ten.
According to the Big Ten website, Michigan finished ninth in the conference in team receiving yards at 2,226. They also finished 11th with only nine receiving touchdowns.
But there is hope for the receiving corps in 2018 after a change in coaching, and a year of development for this young group should prepare the wide outs for success.
“I feel like our wide receivers have come along,” Harbaugh said. “Coach McElwain has done a great job coaching them. Tarik, Donovan have probably done the best job of anybody in spring practice. Nate Schoenle, Oliver Martin, and Nico Collins also did extremely well. Those [five] guys there probably had the best spring.”
Schoenle walked on in 2016, while both Collins and Martin were top-30 wide receiving recruits in the 2017 class. The time is now for these players to step up and make a difference. The three of them will fight for the fourth and fifth spot in the wide receiving corps.
Black will have the most impact on this group. His size, speed and big play ability will make him a solid counterpart to Peoples-Jones.
With Shea Patterson and a new-look offensive line under Ed Warinner, the Wolverines’ wide receivers have the potential to make a huge jump in the Big Ten rankings come September.