Michigan football: 5 Wolverines who are on the rise heading into Week 4 vs. Rutgers
A handful of Michigan players have already made names for themselves through the first 3 weeks of the season — and they’re the players who were expected to get early recognition: RBs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, along with QBs Cade McNamara and JJ McCarthy.
Star DE Aidan Hutchinson is already being discussed as shoo-in for All-America honors.
Those 5 players have shown great progress, helping to lead the No. 19-ranked Wolverines to a 3-0 record heading into this Saturday’s showdown with 3-0 Rutgers in Ann Arbor.
Everyone knows about them. They’ve been written about extensively. They’ll sway the direction of this weekend’s game, as usual.
However, there are more than a handful of players on coach Jim Harbaugh’s roster, and a lot more than just 5 who will make a difference this season.
As a team, Michigan is on the rise. The aforementioned 5 players are on trending upward as well.
But here’s a look at few other players who deserve attention, as they’re clearly on an incline and ready to help the Wolverines continue success.
AJ Henning, WR
After this past Saturday’s 63-10 home win over Northern Illinois, it’s clear that Henning is one of the more dangerous players on the Wolverines’ roster. His 24-yard reception and 5 punt returns for 76 yards were clear indicators that the sophomore wide receiver is capable of shouldering some responsibility this year.
Watch out for Henning, as he’s sure to continue climbing the ranks. It’s possible that he develops into a true multi-level threat for Michigan, which so far has relied heavily on the run. But once the ball starts flying, it’s a safe bet to assume that Henning will be at the end of a lot of those connections.
Gemon Green, CB
Notching Michigan’s first interception since Week 4 of 2020 vs. Wisconsin, Green was outstanding this past Saturday vs. Northern Illinois. While he didn’t post huge numbers, credited with only 1 tackle, he was certainly a big reason why the Huskies couldn’t move the ball through the air. Coverage-wise, Green showed that he can be a valuable asset to a secondary that’s been criticized for the past 2 seasons.
Cornelius Johnson, WR
Michigan fans begged for the long-ball TD connection for the first 2 weeks of the season. For the first 2 games, the Wolverines weren’t going aerial, frustrating a fanbase that wants to hear all the bells and whistles of the offense each Saturday. From his own 13-yard line, McNamara dropped in the pocket and heaved one down the right side of the field to Johnson, who then burned up the sideline en route to an 87-yard TD reception.
With Ronnie Bell, the star WR, out for the season (Week 1 knee injury), the Wolverines will need receivers to step forward and compensate. Right now, it appears as if Michigan is testing the waters with a few wideouts — but Johnson is clearly going to be a prime target for the rest of the season.
Targeted 5 times Saturday, the most of any UM WR, Johnson hauled in 3 catches for 117 yards. Otherwise on-target and catchable, one deep ball was missed due to a pass-interference call on Huskies DB Jordan Gandy, who was draping himself over UM WRs all day.
Through 3 games, Johnson leads UM with 6 receptions for 165 yards and 1 TD.
Donovan Edwards, RB
Following Michigan’s 38-13 run-heavy win over Washington in Week 2, UM RB coach Mike Hart mentioned that he wished he gave more carries to 5-star true-freshman RB Donovan Edwards — a player who’s been praised since arriving on campus and one of a couple youngsters who were expected to make an immediate impact.
Scoring 2 touchdowns this past Saturday was a nice start for Edwards, who toted the ball 8 times for 86 yards. So far, through 3 weeks, No. 7 has 18 carries for 118 yards. He was the first true-freshman RB to score 2 touchdowns in a game during the Harbaugh-era at Michigan.
Jake Moody, K
Due to almost always scoring touchdowns, Michigan has kicked just 3 field goals this season.
During Week 2, Moody booted a 52-yarder vs. Washington, giving Michigan its first points of the game and a lead that it never relinquished. During Week 1, he nailed a 37-yarder vs. Western Michigan, giving the Wolverines a 10-7 lead and a little bump toward their 47-14 final. He later added a 20-yarder that gave UM a 27-7 lead, all but shutting the door on the Broncos.
Eventually, Michigan will find itself in a tight game and in need of Moody’s right foot, which has converted every point-after attempt and drilled 18 touchbacks off kickoffs. Moody is the Wolverines’ second-leading scorer, coming in with 27 points.
If Moody keeps doing his job well, the Wolverines will have one less thing to worry about as the season progresses.