After losing two reliable receivers and an elite tight end in the NFL draft, many Michigan fans are worrying about who will step up as Wilton Speight’s top target in the 2017 season. Many were banking on Grant Perry, the sophomore out of Bloomfield Hills, who looked very good in the Ohio State game. As it turn out, Perry has gotten into some off the field issues which have resulted in an indefinite suspension. So who will fill the shoes of a very talented receiver group that has since departed?
The first name to mention after Perry is the speedy slot man, Eddie McDoom. McDoom’s main threat is when he gets the ball in the open field. He made a name for himself in his freshman season in 2016 as a sweep runner out of the slot position, rushing for 160 yards. Although he was mainly used as a sweep man, he was also targeted five times in the passing game, averaging nearly 12 yards per catch. He is already a fan favorite, as the Big House fans echo “Doom” every time he gets a touch. So look for coach Jim Harbaugh to use McDoom as an offensive weapon all over the field in the fall.
With the slot position potentially figured out, Harbaugh still needs to fill the shoes of NFL bound wide outs Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. There are a few choices that Harbaugh will have for the two wideout spots including the senior Maurice Ways, sophomore Kekoa Crawford, and the two highly touted freshmen Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Maurice Ways might be the most interesting story out of the bunch, after facing multiple injuries throughout his career. Just when it seems like Ways will have a chance to be implemented into Harbaugh’s system, he gets injured. He has also struggled competing behind impressive talent throughout his career at Michigan. Ways has tallied only five catches in his injury-riddled career.
Kekoa Crawford shined last season in his few appearances on the field. He snagged four receptions for 47 yards, and even scored a touchdown. He also added a couple of runs, which showed his versatility. He showed impressive hands with his 6’2″, 195 pound frame in just six games as a freshman.
The two standout youngsters in the wide out group are Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Black turned heads this spring after an impressive performance in the annual spring game, as he tallied four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. He has an ideal wide out’s body measuring at 6’4″ and 208 lb.
Donovan Peoples-Jones is last on the list, but definitely not the least. He comes into Michigan for his freshman year as the No. 1 ranked receiver recruit in the country. He had an outstanding high school career at Cass Tech in Detroit, averaging 56 receiving yards per game and 16 total touchdowns. He also has a college-ready body at 6’2″, 195 lb.
Some honorable mentions that may also be included in the mix are incoming freshmen Nico Collins and Oliver Martin. Although they did not enroll early like Black and Peoples-Jones, they will step onto campus for fall camp with impressive resumes. Collins is a four star recruit, ranking 23rd in the nation amongst wide receiver recruits. He will also be one of the tallest wide receivers on the roster when he arrives in Ann Arbor at 6’5″. Oliver Martin, who jumped into a pool with coach Harbaugh as he announced his commitment is also a recruit to be excited about. Martin recorded 33 receiving touchdowns and nearly 3,500 yards in his career at West Senior High School in Iowa City.
With the slot position assumed to be filled by Eddie McDoom, the wide out position is going to be a heated four-way competition for the top two spots. It looks like Kekoa Crawford will be able to take one spot and one of the freshman will take the second starting spot. My prediction is Tarik Black because of his impressive spring and long body. We will also have to wait and see what Nico Collins and Oliver Martin can bring to the table in fall camp. But with three months until the start of the season, many things can change.
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