Michigan is making winning look easy so far this season, and no individual Wolverine more so than Ronnie Bell.

The senior wide receiver has been flying under the radar since returning from an injury that cost him almost all of last season. Oh, he leads the team in receptions and receiving yards, but he still goes unnoticed for large chunks of games.

When it comes to marquee players, Michigan has super-hyped quarterback JJ McCarthy and emerging star running back Blake Corum taking top billing.

Besides that, Bell’s smooth, gliding style can lull observers and fans alike into not realizing how lethal his skills truly are. His movements are usually so efficient that the results don’t seem super-human, even as he’s cruising into the end zone.

While Michigan fans surely know his name, since he’s been playing for the home team since 2018, outside fans and media are just getting reacquainted with the 6-foot, 190-pound offensive sparkplug. He burst onto the national stage in last year’s opener with a 76-yard touchdown reception and a 31-yard punt return in the second quarter against Central Michigan.

But he suffered a major right leg injury on the punt return, and had to be carted off the field as a packed Michigan Stadium went quiet with concern. Just like that, Bell was out of the limelight as his teammates produced a breakthrough season and reached the College Football Playoff for the first time.

There’s probably no Wolverine with a greater desire to get back to the CFP than Bell. And he’s doing his part.

Through Michigan’s 5-0 start, Bell has 19 catches for 269 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers. On average, that’s roughly 4 receptions for 54 yards per game. Last weekend against Iowa, he did more damage running (2 carries, 26 yards, TD) than receiving (2 for 16).

But that’s pretty much the point when it comes to Bell. Whatever the team needs, he’s ready to deliver.

So far, 8th-year coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t needed to ask McCarthy to put the ball in the air a whole lot. Corum, running behind the team’s dominant offensive line, averages 122.2 yards per game and 6.6 per carry. The team churns out more than 220 rushing yards per game. McCarthy hasn’t reach 230 passing yards in a game yet this season while connecting on a nation’s best 78.6% of his attempts.

At some point, whether it’s at Indiana on Saturday, against Penn State the following week or later in the season, someone might present enough ground resistance to force Harbaugh to open up the offense.

Then, McCarthy will have to prove he can handle it. But at least he’ll have a reliable 2-time team captain to keep the receiver corps ready and in sync.

Bell sports a proven track record. He had career highs of 48 catches and 758 yards in 2019 as a sophomore, and racked up 26 catches for 401 yards in 6 games — essentially half a season — in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. For his career, he’s averaging 16.2 yards per reception. He’s 20th on UM’s all-time receiving list with 1,649 yards and could possibly crack the top 10 by season’s end.

According to NFLDraftBuzz.com, Bell ranks 15th overall and 5th in the B1G among 2023 NFL Draft-eligible wide receivers.

What should have been his signature season got derailed last year.

But Bell did the rehab work, and now he’s just beginning to reap the reward. Michigan, too, is just beginning to reap the reward.

Bell seems to be back to full speed.

Harbaugh never had a doubt.

In the aftermath of last year’s season-opening win, even before he had the diagnosis on his star receiver, Harbaugh knew one thing for certain.

“No matter what, he’ll be back.”

Harbaugh should get Bell a few touches Saturday against the Hoosiers, even if they’re not needed, just to keep him sharp. Because before the Wolverines’ Big Ten and CFP chases are done, Bell most certainly will be needed.