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Michigan Football 2023 Position Preview: Wide Receivers

michigan wide receivers

Michigan has its quarterback in J.J. McCarthy, but some questions remain on who he will be throwing to next season. The Wolverines have lacked star power at wide receiver in recent years as their last 1,000-yard receiver was Jeremy Gallon in 2013. Last season, Ronnie Bell returned from his 2021 injury and led the team in receiving, but he is off to the NFL. Returning seniors Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson are established starters and the only truly proven pass catchers in the room. Wide receiver has been one of the top priorities on the recruiting trail, but what does the depth look like in Michigan’s receiving room currently? Here is what to expect from the wide receivers this season.

Michigan Football Wide Receiver Preview: Can Michigan’s Pass Catchers Breakout?

Who Is In and Who Is Out?

Returners: Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson, Darrius Clemons, Tyler Morris, Cristian Dixon, Peyton O’Leary, Eamonn Dennis, Zach Peterson, Matthew Harrison, Sam Staruch, Logan Forbes, Christian Bartholomew, Jake Thaw, Joe Taylor, Will Rolapp

Key Additions: Karmello English, Semaj Morgan, Fredrick Moore

Key Losses: Ronnie Bell, Andrel Anthony, A.J. Henning

Michigan brings back two starters from last season in Johnson and Wilson. Both players have been key contributors for the Wolverines the past few seasons, but the rest of the room provides little experience. With Bell now in the NFL and both Andrel Anthony and A.J. Henning transferring to new schools, Michigan must replace most of its receiver rotation from last season. The next guys up are sophomores Darrius Clemons and Tyler Morris. Both players put up minimal production as freshmen, but they were a part of Michigan’s receiver rotation throughout the season. Cristian Dixon is a former four-star recruit but has played in just two games in two seasons. A former walk-on and lacrosse player, Peyton O’Leary had a stand-out performance in the spring game and he could be a lock for relevant playing time with a strong camp.

The Wolverines brought in three receivers this past recruiting cycle. Karmello Enlgish, Semaj Morgan, and Fredrick Moore could find themselves in the mix for playing time. A four-star recruit, English is the highest-rated of Michigan’s freshman receiving trio. While not the biggest guy, he plays bigger than his size and uses his athleticism to create after the catch. A West Bloomfield native, Morgan should be well-known by Michigan fans. He is another smaller receiver, but he has good speed and playmaking ability that will remind the Wolverine faithful of Wilson. An early enrollee alongside Morgan, Moore is a strong route runner with the speed to stretch the field and he can contribute on special teams.

Projected Depth Chart

Starters: Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson, Tyler Morris

Backups: Darrius Clemons, Peyton O’Leary, Fredrick Moore

Key Contributors: Semaj Morgan, Cristian Dixon, Karmello English

Johnson and Wilson are entrenched as starters this season, but there should be good competition for the third receiver spot. Morris is the favorite to play in the slot, which would kick Wilson outside with Johnson. However, there is a possibility that Clemons starts on the outside with Wilson sticking inside. The Wolverines should have some options when deploying their rotation due to some of the versatility they have in their room. O’Leary burst on the scene this spring and is a factor for more playing time this season. His size and ability to get open will certainly force the coaching staff to get him on the field.

As for the freshman, Moore may have the best chance of seeing time early. He has a versatile skillset and his route-running ability gives him a solid floor. Not to mention he should be a quality contributor on special teams units, including as a return man. Morgan and English will likely receive some time in spurts, but they could have their redshirts saved depending on the health of the room. Jim Harbaugh and his staff have never been afraid to burn redshirts if young players can help them in some role.

Read more Michigan Football position previews here: Quarterbacks | Running Backs

Outlook At Wide Receiver In 2023

Michigan’s offense should be among the most explosive in the country in 2023. Star running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards pace this offense behind a talented offensive line. However, expect the Wolverines to open up the passing game more this season with McCarthy at the helm. The wide receiver room lacks the true star power and depth that other programs have, but this group has some potential. Johnson and Wilson should offer steady production at the position, but there is some uncertainty with the rest of the room. Both Morris and Clemons are in line for larger roles, but what those roles will be remains to be seen. Michigan is in need of a breakout season from its pass catchers. The top four have all the talent to become McCarthy’s go-to target and help get the Wolverines back in the College Football Playoff.

michigan wide receivers

Photo courtesy: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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