With talent, speed and depth unmatched in the Jim Harbaugh era, the Michigan Wolverines wideouts are poised to vault the Wolverines into another campaign of explosivity on the offensive side of the ball. Seemingly, the only challenge facing the offensive staff is finding the right personnel combinations to utilize the abilities of each player in what could arguably be its deepest position group anywhere on the field.
The term “depth chart” is perhaps too restricting when applied to this bunch. Some receivers are certainly better than others on the roster, but I think the coaching staff is looking at who’s better situationally/better for a particular play, as opposed to who’s better overall. Instead, I decided on a bit less formal means of categorizing the pass catchers to capture the role each will be asked to fulfill.
Option 1: Andrel Anthony
Of all the flashy performances at this position last year, none was as impressive as A2’s eruption onto the scene against the Spartans. And although the good guys lost the contest in East Lansing, the Wolverines witnessed the potential that this 6-foot-2 sophomore brings to the table. This could be the year that he lives up to the hype and becomes Michigan’s top deep-ball threat.
Option 2: Cornelius Johnson
Michigan’s leader in receiving yards last year seeks to make his senior year a special one. With plenty of size and athleticism, all that’s holding him back from the No. 1 spot in this category is his ability to separate himself from defenders. With that said, Johnson should have no problem imposing his will against undersized defensive backs over the top.
Option 1: Ronnie Bell
Fan favorite No. 8 is primed for an impressive rebound campaign. Bell has already proven his reliability as an underneath target, and his knack for picking up massive yards after the catch. Provided he can stay healthy, he should be the primary target for Michigan’s signal callers.
Option 2: Roman Wilson
Perhaps the most underrated receiver in the platoon, Wilson best showcased his abilities as a surehanded speedster in Michigan’s win at Happy Valley last November. Concentration and agility are his greatest strengths. Look for him to make his most impactful contributions against man coverage in the red zone.
1A: A.J. Henning
Equally adept on end arounds as he is downfield, Henning gives Harbaugh and company plenty of options for trickery. Comparisons to Deebo Samuel might be lofty but with proper play-calling, they might not seem too far-fetched.
1B: Mike Sainristil
Michigan’s next two-way hero might only be 5-foot-10, but his playmaking abilities vastly outstrip his frame.
The only reason I list him below Henning is because he will already have his time occupied aiding the young secondary. This move will undoubtedly pay dividends for that group but will come with the downside of limiting his offensive snaps.
Darrius Clemons, Amorion Walker, Tyler Morris, Cristian Dixon
The future is bright at the wide receiver position. Keep an eye out for each of these guys to be mixed in as the season progresses, and don’t be surprised if one or two break out a la Andrel Anthony. My money is on Darius Clemons, one of the early enrollees who had an impressive touchdown grab during the spring game.