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21Jul 2017
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2017 Season Countdown: #42 Grant Perry

Grant Perry (image via Deadspin)

Name: Grant Perry
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 196 lbs.
High school: Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #9
Last year: I ranked Perry #32 and said he would be the starting slot receiver with 20 catches for 190 yards and 2 TDs. He made 13 catches for 183 yards and 1 TD.
TTB Rating: 71

Perry took a tiny step forward as a sophomore in 2016. A fairly reliable slot option and a decent blocker, he made 13 catches (down from 14 in 2015) but raised his total yards from 128 to 183 and his yards per catch from 9.1 to 14.1. He had a 54-yard catch-and-run against Colorado, and 49 yards with a career-high 4 catches against Ohio State. That’s not a great year, but it’s solid for a slot guy who plays on a team with a bunch of tight end options.

But Perry didn’t make headlines for his receiving abilities. No, his headlines were earned in East Lansing, where he allegedly tried to cut in line, got in a scuffle, and tried to run from the police. An officer was injured, and felony charges were filed. Altogether, it wasn’t an extremely harmful incident – except to Perry’s reputation.

It was unclear this off-season whether Perry would even be on the team in the fall. He reached a plea deal and avoided a permanent felony conviction, so he is now expected to return. But in the meantime, Donovan Peoples-Jones took a shot at snaring Perry’s #9 jersey and a couple other players tried to stake their claim for the slot receiver job. Perry, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Oliver Martin, and others will try to play in the slot, but Perry is the most proven receiver. He will probably face some sort of suspension for a week or two before hitting the field, but beyond that, he could be Michigan’s #2 receiver. The Wolverines are relying on freshmen and other unproven guys, and he might end up being Wilton Speight’s most trusted target.

Prediction: Starting slot receiver after suspension; 20 catches, 225 yards, 2 TDs

20Jul 2017
Blog, homepage 7 comments

2017 Season Countdown: #43 Nate Johnson

Nate Johnson (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Nate Johnson
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 185 lbs.
High school: Thompson’s Station (TN) Independence
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #25
Last year: I ranked Johnson #94 and said he would redshirt. He played in three games, making 1 catch for 4 yards.
TTB Rating: 76

I don’t know why Nate Johnson didn’t redshirt last year. His deployment makes little to no sense. Late in the year – ensuring a burned redshirt – he caught 1 pass for 4 yards against Illinois, and that’s all he did. Now maybe keeping a fifth year in your back pocket for someone like Nate Johnson isn’t worth a great deal, but at least it would be an option in 2020 if both parties are interested.

I don’t trust Nate Johnson. I don’t like young guys returning punts, especially when they haven’t proven themselves as star players. Additionally, when we saw him in the spring game, he muffed a punt and fumbled a slant route. His hands and concentration are questionable, and yet, he appears to be the front-runner for the punt returning job. I could make an argument to rank him lower, and I can’t think of any reasons to place him higher. There are other guys on the roster who should be able to do just as good of a job, but maybe he’ll be lightning with the ball in his hands if we ever get a chance to see it. My guess is that if he starts the year as the punt returner, he won’t end it that way.

Prediction: Starting punt returner for part of the season; backup slot receiver

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