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Darrius Clemons’ path to Michigan, outlook for 2023

Can the young receiver take a leap in his second season?

Michigan Spring Game Photo by Jaime Crawford/Getty Images

Who will be the next great Michigan wide receiver? Ronnie Bell left the Wolverines with his name littered across the record books, but even he never came close to the heights of Braylon Edwards, Desmond Howard or Anthony Carter. Jeremy Gallon in 2013 remains the last 1,000-yard Michigan receiver, and the drought has now surpassed Michigan’s 1,000-yard running back drought from 2011-18.

Is the next 1,000-yard player on the roster? The more proven commodities such as Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson are the favorites, but the unknown commodity oozing with potential is also waiting in the wings.

The expectations continue to pile up for second-year wide receiver Darrius Clemons. Fair or unfair, the sophomore will have his opportunities in a wide open wide receivers’ room.

The story so far

Coming out of high school, Clemons was a highly touted four-star recruit garnering comparisons to Allen Robinson because of his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. He was the No. 144 player in the country — according to 247Sports’ composite — and chose Michigan over Alabama, Georgia, USC and Oregon. among others.

As an early enrollee, Clemons immediately flashed his potential in the 2022 Michigan spring game. Despite having only been on campus for a few weeks, Clemons provided the top highlight of the scrimmage when he hauled in a 35-yard touchdown reception from Alan Bowman. With the help of Bell, the play immediately went viral and expectations sky-rocketed for the freshman.

Although it felt like the beginning, the spring game highlight would ultimately be the single highest moment for him last season. Clemons appeared in 11 games in 2022 — nine at wide receiver — but only hauled in one catch for seven yards. Although the position room was more crowded, Clemons struggled to shine in his limited opportunities and simply looked uncomfortable and clunky on the field; more succinctly, he looked like a freshman.

Outlook moving forward

This year, the Michigan Wolverines have openings at wide receiver following the departures of Ronnie Bell to the NFL, Andrel Anthony to Tornado Alley, and Amorion Walker to defense.

Clemons will have ample opportunities to emerge as the third or fourth wide receiver on this team, but he will have to battle fellow receivers Tyler Morris and 2023 spring game standout Peyton O’Leary for playing time.

The buzz around Schembechler Hall suggests Clemons’ emergence as a contributor is imminent as long as he can take that sophomore leap in Ann Arbor.