Michigan Football: Breaking down 2020 options at wide receiver

Michigan football is suddenly swamped with options at wide receiver and with at least one wideout committed we break down who else might be coming.

On the final weekend of official visits before the recruiting dead period in July, Michigan football made a splash, a big one.

Not only did Michigan football host over 20 recruits in Ann Arbor last weekend, but it has also already gotten six commitments out of it, with more potentially on the way according to the director or recruiting Matt Dudek, who teased as many as nine on Sunday.

Dudek started teasing commits early Sunday morning and it didn’t take long for William Mohan, Aaron Lewis and Jordan Morant to announced their pledges to Michigan. Yet, we are still waiting for the other three and the biggest name still out there is wideout A.J. Henning.

Henning is a four-star recruit and the top player in the state of Illinois. He ranks 80th overall and is likely the top offensive player on Michigan’s recruiting board right now. The track star is the best chance the staff has a landing a big-time wide receiver in 2020 and the 5-foot-10 speedster would be a perfect fit in the system of Josh Gattis.

With Henning, there are good signs. Crystal ball predictions have been moving in the Wolverines direction and since Michigan got the final visit, it seems like they were able to close the deal. Now, we are just waiting for the official word.

But if Henning does come into the fold, what does that mean for the rest of wide receivers UM is recruiting in 2020?

Jay Brunelle, a three-star from Massachusetts also visited Michigan last weekend. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound wideout who has Gattis for a primary recruiter is listed as the 138th wide receiver. He appeared headed to Notre Dame but the Wolverines likely want at least one big-bodied receiver and Brunelle could be that guy.

With Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tarik Black all eligible to go to the NFL after this season, who knows how many spots will need to be filled. It wouldn’t be shocking though if one or two of those guys left after a big season with Shea Patterson at quarterback and Gattis calling plays.

Eamonn Dennis, an athlete that committed Monday, is going to play in the slot and Henning could see time in there as well as on the outside. But with those roles covered, Michigan could be looking at bigger wideouts, guys like Brunelle, Brenden Rice and Roman Wilson.

Wilson visited a couple of weeks ago, while Rice was in town last weekend and since then, the son of Jerry Rice has picked up three crystal balls that say he’s headed to the Wolverines.

Rice also has Gattis as his primary recruiter and it appears that Gattis likes what the 6-foot-2 wideout brings to the table. From Chandler, Arizona, Rice is the No. 68 wide receiver according to the 247 composite rankings as well as No. 405 overall.

Wilson, a 6-foot receiver from Hawaii offers more size than Dennis and Henning, however, he’s a speed demon with a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash. He’s a guy that has home-run threat written all over him.

Over the past few years, the number of wide receivers taken has varied. Last year, Michigan added four but had just one in 2018, as well as five in 2017, six if you include Brad Hawkins. This year, three or four feels like a good number.

Michigan has solid depth and numbers at wide receiver but finding guys that fit with Gattis is essential. While Rice isn’t necessarily a deep threat, you see him go across the middle a lot and getting yards after the catch. That’s vital when talking about speed-in-space.

Getting open or getting deep is one thing, but being able to make defenders miss after catching the ball is even more important. Henning excels in that area, as does Dennis. Rice does too and with the need for a bigger body on the perimeter, he feels like a perfect fit.

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If the crystal balls pan out, it would make sense for Rice to join Dennis and hopefully Henning at Michigan. Another wide receiver still seems likely and while Brunelle is a candidate, he might be a take only if Wilson passes.

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