Impressive Michigan receiving room set to become even more dynamic

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Michigan football has an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position.

While it might not be as lauded as that of rival Ohio State, the Wolverines not only return every receiver from their Big Ten championship-winning team a year ago, but they add more components to the mix.

Perhaps the most important is Ronnie Bell, who tore his ACL in the 2021 season opener against Western Michigan. While he still wasn’t a full go in spring ball, he’s coming along in his rehabilitation and is set to be healthy once 2022 rolls around.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh shared an update on the wide receiver corps last week on the ‘In The Trenches’ podcast with Jon Jansen, noting that Bell is nearly ready to go, along with the rest of the usual suspects.

“Wide receiver-wise, Ronnie Bell is more like weeks away from being full speed. He’s running, he’s starting to make cuts. He’s doing cutting. He’s real close,” Harbaugh said. “He’s almost doing everything that everybody else is doing. The rehab’s been fabulous. He’ll step right in and possibly even be stronger, faster, better than he was last year. To go along with the top guys, which are, in no order: Roman Wilson, Cornelius Johnson, Andrel Anthony, A.J. Henning — who is doing a heckuva good job — Mike Sainristil is playing both ways and starting on defense right now, but also comes over to offense and looks like he hasn’t left offense. (…)

“The other guy, Cristian Dixon, also on that verge of being able to break through. He did some good things as well.”

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While we know those players, there’s the three freshmen — all of whom have early enrolled — who could also be impact players this fall.

We saw Darrius Clemons make a handful of big plays in the spring game, to go along with a body that looks college-ready. Amorion Walker has height, but perhaps not the requisite size for the college game, but Harbaugh notes that once he goes through summer conditioning that could change. Morris wasn’t available for the spring game, as he tore his ACL a year ago, but the trio could all make an impact come fall.

Harbaugh has liked what he’s seen from the dynamic trio, and he shared what he likes about all three.

“Really good. Amorion Walker, Darrius Clemons, and somebody you didn’t see is Tyler Morris,” Harbaugh said. “We saw him in practice quite a bit, we just didn’t have him in contact. He also had an ACL injury when he was in high school, in spring. It’s coming up on just about a year now and they just wanted to keep him out of contact in the spring. Still has a knee brace, but you wouldn’t know it. He is elusive, slot type of guy with a lot of speed. Darrius Clemons and Amorion Walker are your prototypical type of outside receivers, catching contested balls, running the deep crosses and the crossing routes.

“Darrius definitely has the more physically developed. Amorion, once he puts in the offseason, gets another four weeks and then the summer cycle, gaining the strength, the strength and endurance, you can just tell he’s gonna be a tremendous football player to go along with all that athleticism.

”Much like Will Johnson, you can just see it. He’s that type of athlete. When he covers guys, he’s right there with them. He’s gonna play and be battling for a starting position. Also like Amorion, he needs the strength and the endurance that you would expect a midyear freshman to need. It’s just Darrius Clemons, he’s just physically, his endurance and strength is already there and developed and will continue to develop.”

Another interesting storyline throughout the spring has been the emergence of Sainristil at cornerback, as he is likely to stick at that position come fall. But Harbaugh insists that he will play on both sides of the ball once the season comes.

“He’s got the skillset to do it. He’s been really, really impressive,” Harbaugh said. “If you’re gonna bet on a guy, you bet on a guy like Mike Sainristil to be able to get that done, because he handles all of his business all the time, because he’s that kind of guy. And he’s got the athleticism to be a two-way player.”

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