Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Tarik Black has thrown his name into the transfer portal, meaning that other teams can now actively recruit him as he seeks a new program to be a part of. This was met by mixed reactions on social media with some fans being shocked, while others felt as if the writing was on the wall.
The immediate takeaway is that our thoughts for now might be incomplete on this until Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins decide on what their respective futures are. Plenty of outlets have pegged them as potential day two (some day one) NFL Draft picks in 2020.
Those are decisions that should come soon as the team plans for how to approach the Citrus Bowl against Alabama on New Years Day. It seems as though he does not intend to play in that game with Friday’s news.
Truth be told, the only thing that would be somewhat stunning here is if both of those players return. It seems likely that at least one of the two, if not both, might be ready.
But back to Black for a bit. Yes, if Peoples-Jones and Collins decide to leave for the NFL, the depth chart will open up a bit. Consider what we saw down the stretch this season, though. Black only had one game this season with more than three receptions and that was in the opener against Middle Tennessee where he had four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. As the year went on, we started to see more of the true freshmen play in Mike Sainristil, Giles Jackson and Cornelius Johnson. Ronnie Bell also had a breakout season and was the most productive of all of Michigan’s wideouts with 43 catches for 694 yards.
Michigan likes the wide receiver room it has and knows there’s always possible attrition, especially when you recruit the position as well as they have. Even if it winds up being Bell, Sainristil, Jackson, Johnson and true freshman AJ Henning (who looks like the real deal on film), there’s a decent amount to like there. If even one of the stars come back, this is still promising.
Is that a smaller group in stature than the one they had this season? Sure. It is worth noting, however, that Johnson is 6-foot-3, which is as tall as Black. Bell stands at 6-feet exactly, while Sainristil (5-foot-10), Jackson (5-foot-9) and Henning (5-foot-10) are a bit shorter.
It will also be quite a bit of newness, as well. They will break in a new quarterback in either Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton and if it is McCaffrey that wins the job. Regardless, Michigan’s transformation to a west coast spread offense will continue to grow and evolve heading into next season.
Black had 40 catches for 507 yards and two touchdowns in his Michigan career total. He was hampered by injuries in both his freshman and sophomore seasons and walks away from Michigan as one of the bigger “what ifs” in recent history. Some fans have gotten on him for a perceived lack of effort this season, but the fact of the matter is that he just was not the same guy after he came back from the second foot injury.
Our pal Space Coyote puts it pretty well:
A lot have complained about effort with Black. Don’t think that’s the case (was a good blocker on outside). Where he struggled was mental part of route running. Incorrect depth, incorrect read of coverage, things of that nature. That’s why he fell behind IMO. Still a loss for UM https://t.co/Gz0Ec6kB0v— Space Coyote (@SpaceCoyoteBDS) December 13, 2019
Black leaves Michigan with unfulfilled potential, but nobody in particular is to blame for it. The Wolverines recruited a five-star wideout (Peoples-Jones) and three four-star guys (Black, Collins, Oliver Martin) in the 2017 recruiting class. Two of them could be in the NFL next season and two of them leave as transfers. Luckily for Michigan, it seems like they are still in relatively good hands here.
This is not like defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon transferring last offseason. They needed a guy like him this year and he was going to be relied upon for a big role. Black unfortunately was trending downward on the depth chart because other players were ascending. Depending on if he was awarded a medical redshirt or not for 2017, he could either have one or two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Black is an NFL talent that needs an opportunity to showcase it. He came to Michigan to do that and the opportunity sort of dried up. If that is still his goal, this is probably the best move for both sides and we wish him well.