Michigan IDs third receiver, prepping ‘game-changer’ freshmen to play

Michigan football’s first practice in Arizona

Michigan wide receiver Tyler Morris practices at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. Michigan and TCU play in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31 at State Farm Stadium.Neil Blake | MLive.com


ANN ARBOR, Mich. — While Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson will be expected to lead the group, Michigan’s receiving corps remains in flux heading into the season.

Sophomore Darrius Clemons just returned to practice after missing some time with an undisclosed injury, head coach Jim Harbaugh revealed this week, opening the door for sophomore Tyler Morris to claim the No. 3 spot.

Even so, the Wolverines are preparing to play their trio of true freshmen — Karmello English, Fredrick Moore and Semaj Morgan — early this fall.

“Those three have really come in and asserted themselves right off the bat,” Harbaugh told reporters on Tuesday. “They’ve taken reps with the 1s, reps with the 2s — they’re not playing like freshmen.”

Harbaugh praised all three for their ability to get out of breaks quickly — something he and the Michigan coaching staff “haven’t seen from many freshmen, let alone too many receivers that have come through here,” the coach said.

More: This Michigan receiver is ready to become J.J. McCarthy’s ‘go-to’ target

English was the prized recruit of the trio, a four-star player from Alabama who committed to Michigan on signing day back in December, while Morgan and Moore were under-the-radar, three-star players.

Morgan, from nearby West Bloomfield, is listed at 5 feet, 10 inches and 176 pounds.

“Fredrick Moore’s ability to track the ball is good as I’ve seen,” Harbaugh continued. “Semaj Morgan — quick, fast and shorter stature, but (has) a really big catch radius. He can catch balls away from his body, he can high point, he’s been really good.”

He wasn’t the only Michigan coach to praise group, too. A day earlier, offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore told the Big Ten Network that the three freshmen “have really stood out and been game-changers for us on the outside” and suggested that plans are in the works to play them.

“They’re going to have really good years, and I think they’re going to have help us early,” Moore said. “The whole room as a whole, but those three freshmen have done a really good job for us.”

Harbaugh went out of his way to praise junior Cristian Dixon, too, but like several wideouts in the mix to play — Morris, Clemons and the three freshmen, especially — have little-to-no game experience.

“Cristian Dixon is someone who’s really asserting himself right now, and it’s availability,” Harbaugh said. “He’s there everyday. And going through a couple big hits, he held onto the ball.

“It’s that talent to be there every single day. The best ability is availability — and he’s rising.”

Read more on Michigan football:

Jim Harbaugh isn’t talking NCAA, but will Michigan — and he has a lot to say

Harbaugh’s ‘Michigan Method’ to decide certain starters at U-M

Offensive line: The plan at tackle, an early camp standout, more

QB at kick return? Jim Harbaugh floats the possibility

Injury to defensive back slows his push for starting role

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