Michigan Football: Receiving Corps Shows Out On Day One

Chris Balas, Senior Editor

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Michigan redshirt junior quarterback Wilton Speight had a very nice receiving corps to work with last season in his first year as U-M’s starter. The crew he’s got this year has a chance to be every bit as good.

Redshirt juniors Maurice Ways and Drake Harris are the veterans, and there’s hope that junior Grant Perry will be back in the lineup down the road following a suspension. But the entire group, including the incoming freshmen, had an “unbelievable day one,” according to Speight.

“They’re stepping up to the plate so far,” Speight said. “Towards the end of season I knew at all times where [Amara] Darboh, Jehu [Chesson] and Jake [Butt] were going to be. [Tight end] Ian [Bunting] was already right there, too. There’s a learning curve with the tight ends, but he’s going to bring those guys along.

“We saw Jehu and Amara come into their own when coach Harbaugh came here, those last two years. I think guys are going to come into their own very rapidly and have three to four years. That’s a pretty glaring statistic to be able to do what Jehu and Amara did those two years, for four.”

They have to do it yet, of course, and for guys like Ways and Harris, it’s now or never. The young receivers are pushing them, and one in particular — frosh five-star Donovan Peoples-Jones — is proving the hype is real.

“Donovan was doing things today that were pretty freaky. Hopefully he keeps that up,” Speight said, shaking his head.

“The catch radius, if the ball is way out her [reaches] … I saw one today where it was going way out of bounds. He just plucked it. Even some guys back where I was standing looked at each other. He caught like three of four slants today."

Frosh Tarik Black is fast but he’s big and physical, he continued, but the entire group has a chance to be special.

“You saw Mo’s a big, physical receiver," Speight said. "He’s not going to wow you with speed and quickness. Drake is the opposite, not very big or physical but quick and nimble. He can jump through the roof. He’s smooth. We saw Eddie [McDoom] last year on all those fly sweeps, Kekoa [Crawford] showed can compete and athletic.

"All [the] receivers played well. Drake caught a race route … it’s exciting. It’s a good feeling to have all these young guys that haven’t had any action be waiting for Jehu and Amara to leave, these two young guys just enrolled who should be getting ready for their proms performing like this. As a quarterback, it feels good.”


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