Among the most talked about position groups on Michigan’s roster is their wide receivers, who could be among the best in the nation if things go right.
There are a lot of questions to consider when talking about these wideouts, and here are five of them.
Can Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins become one of the best duos in college football?
Let’s take a look at this PFF statistic to help answer the question.
Michigan wide receivers showing up big pic.twitter.com/tun861mJlz— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 9, 2019
DPJ and Collins ranked No. 2 and No. 1 in the Big Ten in lowest drop percentage. That’s elite.
Peoples-Jones really started to find his groove last season as a sophomore, totaling 47 receptions for 612 yards and 8 TD’s. Collins had a good year in 2018 as well with 38 receptions for 632 yards and 6 TD’s.
With a new scheme that promises to get its playmakers the ball, Collins and DPJ should easily surpass their 2018 reception and yardage totals if they stay healthy.
Collins, a former 4-star prospect, and Peoples-Jones, a former 5-star, are now being coached by Josh Gattis, who was Alabama’s co-offensive coordinator and WR’s coach last season when wideout Jerry Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver). Little tid-bits like that are bound to get this duo excited to begin the season so they can showcase their talent.
Will Tarik Black contribute in a major way?
Black was Michigan’s leading receiver early in 2017 before suffering a foot injury, and then in 2018 Black suffered another foot injury before the season began.
“Tarik’s got a role on this team. Tarik will be a big-time playmaker for us this season,” Gattis said at the beginning of fall camp.
Black, at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, possesses size and speed at the position and could end up as high as WR No. 3 behind Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins.
Wilton Speight to Tarik Black for a Michigan TOUCHDOWN!!! pic.twitter.com/KtvkCdibZL— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) September 2, 2017
Can Mike Sainristil be an immediate contributor on offense?
“He’s on his way to cementing a spot in the starting lineup as well,” Jim Harbaugh said on his Attack Each Day Podcast in April. “Doing a fantastic job at all the receiver positions.”
Sainristil, a true freshman out of Everett, MA, will likely see the field a steady amount in 2019 with Michigan rolling out more spread sets.
“Mikey just needs to keep doing what he’s doing,” Harbaugh said. “He has an intensity about him in practices and in meetings. He’s hungry, doing a great job. All compliments to Mike Sainristil as long as he takes these compliments and, as they say, don’t inhale. Should be good.”
Harbaugh also mentioned that Sainristil has added speed and quickness to Michigan’s offense.
Will Ronnie Bell have a breakout season?
Bell didn’t play a ton in 208, but he showed enough on film to indicate he has the potential to be a good player in college with elusiveness in his repertoire.
Look at this touchdown.
Isn't this the guy star gazers got all up in their feels about?— Due# (@JDue51) September 23, 2018
Ronnie Bell with his first TD at Michigan. pic.twitter.com/XciIiyMhXu
And this one.
It's a TOUCHDOWN! Ronnie Bell gets it done here; what a move! #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/aROfvVvJvy— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 13, 2019
A Recipient of the Team Rookie of the Year Award on offense, Bell looks destined to be an asset in the slot due to his shiftiness in the open field.
“Ronnie Bell has been a stalwart all camp, as he was in spring ball,” Jim Harbaugh said last week.
Are all the WR’s going to get their chances to contribute?
I’d say, kind of. With the pro-spread, Michigan will be distributing the ball in a more diverse manner, and there are bound to be more 3,4, and 5 WR sets. Those sets are going to give the No. 4-7 receiving options chances to get reps they wouldn’t have received last season.
Nicco Collins on Michigan’s offense: “I love it. Everybody in the offense is going to get the ball. It’s not just designed for one player. Everybody gets touches. Quarterbacks’ going through his reads, Shea making plays. Offense is clicking.”
Sean McKeon on if every pass catcher will get enough touches: “That’s kind the goal, to spread the ball. We’ll find out how Coach Gattis does that. So far, a lot of different guys have been making plays, so I think the more the merrier.”