Michigan receiver Mike Sainristil is adding more to his plate and is in the midst of learning a new position on the defensive side of the ball.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed Sainristil has been working as a cornerback during spring practices.
“Mike has been playing corner and nickel corner for the start of the spring ball,” Harbaugh said. “Project him as a two-way player, maybe a three-way player.”
It sounds like Sainristil will still be utilized on offense and potentially special teams as well. The reason for Sainristil’s move to cornerback resides in skill-set. Sainristil has shown to be physical in run-blocking, and Michigan likely sees him as an instinctual player that will be able to cover well and play solid, physical man-coverage.
This isn’t the first time Harbaugh has moved a receiver to cornerback — it worked out well at Stanford when Richard Sherman switched from wideout to corner.
As far as Sainristil’s skill-set and who it reminds Harbaugh of, it’s a safety/nickel corner he coached at the San Francisco 49ers.
“He’s got the skill-set for it. He’s got the skill-set for receiver, he’s got the skill-set for corner, for nickel corner. Skill-set reminds me a lot of Jimmie Ward and what he had in college. Yeah, skill-set.”
Ward played his college ball for Northern Illinois. Ward had 95 tackles for the Huskies in 2013 and 7 interceptions, and his film was good enough for the 49ers to draft Ward with the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Ward and Sainristil share similar measurables — Sainristil stands 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, and Ward was 5-foot-11 and 193 pounds coming out of college.
Sainristil’s move to corner shows the depth at the receiver position, including the likes of Ronnie Bell, Cornelius Johnson, A.J. Henning, Roman Wilson, Andrel Anthony, among others. Michigan is trying to maximize Sainristil’s talents, find creative ways to get him on the field and help the team.
Harbaugh also announced that Eamonn Dennis is moving back to wideout after working as a defensive back for two years.