JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
Unlike last season, the University of Michigan football team doesn’t have any questions about who will stand out at the wide receiver position heading into 2016. Seniors Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh are the undoubted leaders of the position. Those two and a couple other important pieces to the core will help ease in the new starting quarterback whoever it may be.
Leading the Way
Chesson became a presence that can’t be ignored with an impressive 2015 campaign. He hauled in 764 receiving yards and scored nine touchdowns – both of which led the Wolverines. Darboh wasn’t far behind Chesson in both stats accumulating 727 yards with five touchdowns.
Chesson showed off his breakaway speed and ability to create open space for himself. Darboh showed the ability to make highlight reel catches and used his big 6 feet 2 inch 215 pound frame to take advantage against smaller defenders. Both of these receivers have enough skill to draw coverage away for the younger receivers.
One of those younger receivers is local guy Grant Perry. The sophomore from Brother Rice didn’t get many targets but played a key role in setting blocks on screens. Perry should see more passes thrown his way this season with a lot of coverage being drawn to Chesson, Darboh, and All-American tight end Jake Butt. With the two seniors holding down the perimeter, look for Perry to use his smaller but shifty skill set to get open in the slot.
Looking to Make a Name
There are two other receivers who have been around campus for a couple years but have yet to make their presence known on the field. Drake Harris and Moe Ways have dealt with their own injuries during their Wolverine tenures but are looking to stay healthy and show off their abilities in 2016.
Playing in just nine games last season Harris will look to make Wolverine fans happy that he flipped his commitment from their rival Michigan State during his recruitment. Harris is lengthy standing at 6 foot 4 inches, but needs to show he can cause separation between him and defenders and make the necessary plays to be trusted with significant playing time.
Ways may get off to a slow start this season, as he is coming off a broken foot injury he suffered in the spring. He had an impressive 13.3 yards per catch in 2015, but a hurt foot can be a receiver’s worse nightmare as it can linger and hamper if not fully healed before they return to the field. But with plenty of talent among the receiving group, head coach Jim Harbaugh won’t let Ways see the field until he is absolutely sure he’s fully ready to go.
With Chesson and Darboh both graduating at the end of the year, this will be a big season for both Harris and Ways as they look to prove to the coaching staff that they can replace the veteran leaders without any worries.
Hoping to Get Playing Time
There are three true freshmen that will be looking to show Wolverine fans that their hype is real. Kekoa Crawford, Eddie McDoom and Nate Johnson were all in the top 80 of the wide receiver recruiting class of 2016. Crawford comes in with the most eyes on him as he was the No. 26 ranked wide receiver in the class. He will don the famous No. 1 jersey that only a handful of Wolverines have worn in the history of Michigan football, and most of them are legendary in Ann Arbor.
He, McDoom and Johnson won’t see much playing time in 2016 especially once Big Ten play begins. With an easier non-conference tilt, look for the three freshmen to get on the field and earn the coaches’ trust in the first three games of the season.