2019 Season Countdown: #20 Mike Sainristil

2019 Season Countdown: #20 Mike Sainristil

August 11, 2019
Mike Sainristil (image via Scoop Nest)

Name: Mike Sainristil
183 lbs.
High school:
Everett (MA) Everett
Wide receiver
Jersey number:
Last year:
Sainristil was a senior in high school (LINK). He made 32 catches for 792 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 290 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns; he also made 6 interceptions on defense.
TTB Rating:

Sainristil was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Massachusetts, and that was well deserved. Going back to watch him play during his senior year, it’s ridiculous to see how explosive, elusive, and strong he is. If you’re one-on-one with Sainristil, you might as well sit down to make sure your ankles stay intact. Graveyards have been filled with the shards of tibias that have come within 5 yards of Sainristil on a football field.

And then came the spring. Sainristil enrolled at Michigan early, got hyped up by Josh Gattis, and did things like this in the spring game:

I expect Sainristil to have a breakout year as a true freshman. Unlike Freddy Canteen – whose spring hype from yesteryear outpaced his film – the buzz about Sainristil is backed up by what you see from his high school career. Not only that, but Michigan’s RPO-based offense needs a slot guy who can run the crossing routes, slants, hitches, and bubbles that make the pistons churn. Ronnie Bell has some elusiveness and vision, but his explosiveness isn’t on the same level as Sainristil’s. He has already been named a starter in the slot – a stance in the spring that was reaffirmed recently – which suggests that a previously hyped receiver will start the game on the bench. At various different times, Tarik Black, Nico Collins, and Donovan Peoples-Jones have all been pegged as future high draft picks and/or the best receiver on the team, but Sainristil will apparently start over at least one of them.

Prediction: Starting slot receiver; 30 catches for 480 yards and 5 touchdowns


  1. 17years
    Comments: 277
    Joined: 2/6/2018
    Aug 11, 2019 at 10:17 PM

    “At various different times, Tarik Black, Nico Collins, and Donovan Peoples-Jones have all been pegged as future high draft picks and/or the best receiver on the team, but Sainristil will apparently start over at least one of them.”

    It won’t be Nico Collins. And I don’t think it’s going to be DPJ. But I’m no insider. So who knows.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 54
    Joined: 10/3/2015
    Aug 11, 2019 at 10:52 PM

    Wow, very high hopes for Sainristil. I hope you’re right – I’m probably overly skeptical that the spring hype will translate into on-the-field success, but you make a good point that the spring hype matches his recruiting profile.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5513
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 12, 2019 at 12:27 PM

    Pretty speculative but I hope you are right.

    Being wrong in ranking Canteen so high (#18 in 2014) doesn’t mean anything for Sainristil but it is a good cautionary reminder. Maybe it’s worth comparing differences and similarities in context.

    Spring hype — both got a ton of it. Sainstril by beating up on mostly backup corners. Canteen beat an NFL player in Blake Countess. Edge: Canteen

    HS tape — trusting thunder on this but didn’t Canteen play in a much higher level of competition in HS? Edge: Sainristil

    Surrounding WR depth — 3 big WRs ahead (Black/DPJ/Collins similar to Funchess/Darboh/Chesson) but in ’14 there were not a bunch of other options for a traditional ‘slot’ role. It was Norfleet and that’s about it – the rest where jump ball catch radius guys. In other words if Canteen busted – and he very much did – it was a bigger problem for the team. We didn’t have Bell, Jackson, Johnson, etc. Edge: Canteen

    System — EXCEPT maybe it wasn’t such a big problem. Gattis’ system is supposedly going to use a whole bunch more WRs. Far less the case in the pro style offense the last Alabama OC coordinator we hired was going to be. Edge: Sainristil.


    Let’s hope the similarities end once the season starts. As with Canteen I am buying the hype – I ranked him 33 – but compared to Thunder I am buying the hype more for the position and role than the individual in this case (I was all in on Canteen hype)..

    I put less stock in spring hype 5 years later, even if it’s continued in the very early part of fall. I think Sainristil should be ahead of the freshman just getting on campus and they’ll get an opportunity to narrow the gap with a few weeks of practice.

    Regardless of all that – I can’t wait to watch him and the rest of the WRs. The expectations and anticipation for this offense continue to ramp up, even knowing that it’s fluff season.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 1277
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 12, 2019 at 12:49 PM

    Playing WR gets a lot tougher when the guys covering you or trying to knock your block off on a crossing route are no longer your teammates and friends. Nobody on D in that clip from the spring game was trying that hard, frankly.

    Still in wait to see it on the field mode regarding how good he’ll be, and how effectively he’ll be used.

  5. shadowstorm33
    Comments: 2
    Joined: 4/11/2017
    Aug 12, 2019 at 5:17 PM

    How much of a difference is there (or does there need to be) between slot receiver and outside receiver? I get that slots are typically thought of as smaller/quicker/shiftier players, but does that have to be the case? At its base, slot is just the location where the receiver lines up (right?), and I know that teams have lined up certain receivers in the slot to create mismatches (including against us; Penn State and OSU come to mind), and that players in the slot can run deep routes (e.g. the slot fades that ate us alive in 2017). My understanding is that you run a number of different routes from a number of different alignments.

    So I guess my question is whether we have to have a “slot-shaped” player play slot receiver? Couldn’t we just put DPJ in the slot (I’d put his speed and acceleration up against just about anyone on the team, and he seems like a huge match up nightmare there) and have Black and Nico play outside, as opposed making one of them sit (for a designated slot player) in 3WR sets?

    It feels like I’m missing something here, so I guess what am I missing?

    • GKblue
      Comments: 322
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 12, 2019 at 6:24 PM

      Great first post 33.

      The questions you ask are legitimate and sometimes the personnel can be interchangeable. I think of it as the WR often matches up with opposing CBs and stretch the field. The slot plays in a shorter or intermediate depths some times clears a safety, sometimes blocks and sometimes carries the ball. I think to the slot quickness is very desirable. My exaggerated example is Julian Edelman vs Randy Moss.

      But you are correct if Gattis needed him DPJ might in fact line up in slot and would be a hell of a weapon in a crossing route, or as a threat to run. IMHO.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1617
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        Aug 12, 2019 at 6:40 PM

        I can only wish that DPJ would line up in the slot, with black & Nico outside. No idea why we didn’t live off that in the Bowl game, or ohio

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5513
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 12, 2019 at 7:26 PM

      I can’t find it right now but PFF did a list of the most productive WRs out of the slot and about half of them where big WRs (>6′, >200 lb) and the other half where small. Texas’ Lil’Jordan Humphrey 6’4 225 was among the leaders.

      I’ll be disappointed if we don’t see all 3 of our ‘outside’ WRs on the field at the same time this year. I think Erik All could factor in as a slot WR also.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1277
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 12, 2019 at 7:48 PM

        Agreed. I think it would be bordering on criminal if we didn’t have at least 3 WRs out there on 90% of our snaps this year. Formations with 2 TEs or a FB should be extremely rare.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3366
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 13, 2019 at 10:06 AM

      It all depends on how you run your offense. There are all different kinds of offensive philosophies. If you’re running a spread offense that requires your outside guys to run off corners/safeties and let your quick guys shake people loose from the slot, then you probably want a shifty guy. That’s what the Patriots do, which is why you see a lanky former lacrosse player catching a bunch of dig routes, posts, etc., while Julian Edelman catches a ton of slants, crossers, whip routes, etc.

      If you’re going to involve the slot in the run game at all, too, you generally don’t go for those 6’4″, 220 lb. guys in the slot – they just don’t have the experience, vision, and change of direction skills that you want from a jet sweep guy.

      If you’re going to run combination routes and use that slot guy as a flex tight end type of pass receiver, run him on skinny posts, etc., you can use taller guys.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5513
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Aug 13, 2019 at 11:43 AM

        Very good response. I think Gentry often functioned as a ‘jumbo slot’ in just the way you are talking about. You certainly aren’t going to give him the ball on a sweep.

        Your argument regarding the limitations of the big slot in this role aligns with my own on jumbo RB. If you need a guy to plow ahead through big holes to green grass it works. If you need a guy to cut behind the LOS and avoid tackles, you want someone more shifty than fast and tougher target to tackle.

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