Coming off a Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff, the expectations for the Michigan Wolverines heading into the 2022 season are sky high.
The Michigan offense in 2021 was arguably the best under head coach Jim Harbaugh. With returning starters at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end and three of the five offensive linemen, the offense could be even better in 2022.
One player the Wolverines lost early last year who will be back for one more go at the collegiate level is wide receiver Ronnie Bell. The fifth-year senior will be returning from a torn ACL suffered in Week 1 against Western Michigan last season.
Harbaugh spoke about Bell’s health on the In The Trenches podcast with former Wolverine offensive lineman Jon Jansen, saying the veteran wide receiver should be back to “full speed” in the very near future.
“Ronnie Bell is more like weeks away from being full speed,” Harbaugh said. “He’s running, he’s starting to cut, doing cutting, he’s real close. He’s almost doing everything that everybody else is doing. The rehab has been fabulous. He will step right in and possibly even be stronger, faster, better than he was last year.”
Bell suffered the torn ACL on a punt return early in the game against the Broncos. Up to that point, he already scored a 76-yard receiving touchdown and also had an insane one-handed grab that was called back on a questionable pass interference call. He was well on his way to a career season, but perhaps that career season will come in 2022 instead.
Luckily for the Wolverines, other wide receivers stepped up in Bell’s replacement. Cornelius Johnson had a solid junior season, as did Roman Wilson, Mike Sainristil — who Harbaugh confirmed on the podcast will be playing both offense and defense this upcoming season — and Andrel Anthony.
But getting Bell back adds another dimension to Michigan’s offense. He is without a doubt the most reliable wide out Michigan has on its roster. He may not be the fastest, strongest or most athletic, but he is a difference-maker with his leadership, sure hands, shiftiness and play-making abilities. He’s a guy the quarterbacks trust wholeheartedly, and you need guys like that on your team.
With Bell set to be fully healthy by the time Michigan kicks off against Colorado State on Sept. 3, the Wolverines’ offense should have plenty to offer in 2022.