2016 Michigan Spring Football Preview: Wide Receiver

Spring practice kicks off in Bradenton, Florida at IMG Academy on Monday and there’s one position that is more set than most for Michigan. The return of Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh means UM’s next quarterback will have proven, top-flight receivers. But where’s the depth? That’s the question that will need to be answered during the spring.

Overview

With Chesson and Darboh returning, Michigan is in great shape for 2016. But what happens if one of them is injured? Depth is a big question mark and though the talent’s there, the staff will have to figure out who they can trust the most.

Juniors Moe Ways and Drake Harris look to be the best bets but have not shown more than a couple flashes on the field. Besides those two, the other upperclassman receivers, Jaron Dukes and DaMario Jones, look more special teams/practice players unless they turn a corner during the spring.

Thanks to the question marks behind the returning starters, the staff brought in six freshmen to compete for playing time, including one early enrollee, Ahmir Mitchell.

Pre-Spring Expected Depth Chart

-Not enrolled yet

Wide Receiver X

  1. #82 Amara Darboh, 5th
  2. #85 Moe Ways, JR*
  3. #2 Ahmir Mitchell, FR
  4. #83 Jaron Dukes, SR*
  5. Brad Hawkins, FR

Wide Receiver Z

  1. #86 Jehu Chesson, 5th
  2. #14 Drake Harris, JR* 
  3. #10 DaMario Jones, SR
  4. #3 Dylan Crawford, FR
  5. Eddie McDoom, FR
  6. Nate Johnson, FR

Slot Receiver

  1. #9 Grant Perry, SO
  2. Nate Johnson, FR
  3. #3 Dylan Crawford, FR
  4. Chris Evans, FR

Name to Watch Closest

Mitchell. The early enrollee may have the highest ceiling of any of the freshmen receivers thanks to his natural talent and physical build but will need to work on his game and hands this offseason. The opening is there for the taking but he’ll need to prove it and show it on the field in his first true action as a Michigan Wolverine.

Don’t Forget About Me

Harris. Like Mitchell, Harris came in with a lofty expectations. It comes with being a top recruit and a player that looks to have “it” on film. But injuries have hurt his chances to grow and compete. Can he stay healthy? Is he the receiver that everyone thought he’d be coming out of high school? This spring could be his coming out party and it would be much needed behind Chesson and Darboh.

Breakout Prediction

Ways. While Harris had the expectations coming out of high school but it was Ways that had the physical build that translated better to the college game. He was much more of a raw prospect but he’s proven it more on the field than any other receiver besides Chesson and Darboh, including a couple nice plays in 2015. With the opening there and another year under his belt, I believe he could end up really finding his groove and being a real playmaker for UM moving forward.

Other Spring Positional Previews

Who do you believe will leave spring ball as the starter? Backup? Breakout candidate? Add your predictions in the comment section below! 

Photo Credit: Tony Ding/AssociatePress