Every football team — and sports team in general — needs guys who aren’t star players, who know their role and are willing to do the dirty work to help their team succeed.
That’s exactly what Eamonn Dennis is for the Michigan Wolverines. There should be catches to be had next season with Ronnie Bell and Luke Schoonmaker now in the NFL, but Dennis will probably see the field more often in a special teams role that he’s embraced.
The story so far
Dennis was a three-star in the class of 2020. He was rated on the 247Sports composite as the 36th-best athlete and the fifth-best recruit from the state of Massachusetts.
He came to Ann Arbor from Worchester, where he grew up and played high school ball at St. Johns High School. He was a jack of all trades there, playing running back, wide receiver, cornerback and returning kicks. He also helped his team win Division III championships in 2017 and 2018.
Even in high school, special teams appeared to be Dennis’ biggest strength. He is the all-time leader in kick return touchdowns in Central Massachusetts history. He scored 19 times his senior year, including three kick return scores.
As we covered when he initially committed, Dennis is lightning quick and drew comparisons to Mike Sainristil in his recruitment, since they’re both versatile players from Massachusetts with similar pedigree recruiting wise.
While Dennis has only appeared in 16 games at Michigan, he has earned a couple accolades. He shared the Most Improved Player on Special Teams honors last season and was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree in 2021.
Outlook for 2023
Dennis spoke to Alejandro Zuniga with 247Sports recently, saying he’s embraced his special teams role but he’s also hoping to play more.
“I look at it as you start off on special teams and you build your way up to become a wide receiver, become part of the wide receiver corps,” Dennis said in the interview. “I just look at that as a challenge. This year, I’m ready to prove people wrong, work my way up. Special teams, I embrace the challenge. I make plays on there. You don’t gotta be a playmaker at the receiver position; you can be a playmaker on special teams.”
There is a key special teams opening with A.J. Henning now at Northwestern. Dennis proved to be an excellent kick returner in high school; he’s put his head down and done the work has proven valuable for Michigan in special teams.
Dennis has proven he deserves a shot at the kick returner job. And even if he doesn’t end up being the kick returner, I’d expect him to continue to be the reliable special teams contributor he’s been the last few seasons.