Nebraska sucks! Yes. Yes, they do. Nebraska is a 3-7 football team with an interim head coach, no defensive playmakers except outside linebacker Garrett Nelson, and no quality FBS quarterback right now. Nebraska’s best play on Saturday was to call a pass and then let the quarterback scramble up the middle and hope he doesn’t hurt himself. Unfortunately, that play ended one too many times with the quarterback hurting himself. Meanwhile, the two quarterbacks, Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers, combined for 9 rushing attempts and 40 total yards. The team ended up with 146 total yards, or exactly 106 yards that didn’t come on QB scrambles.
Well, that was a butt whoopin’. Everyone expected a Michigan blowout, but UConn couldn’t do anything. Other than an 18-yard scramble by quarterback Zion Turner, UConn’s longest plays were 9 yards, 8 yards, 7 yards. When’s the last time you saw a team only have one double-digit offensive play? That’s an odd thing to remember off the top of my head even if it’s happened in the last 20 or 30 years, but I don’t remember another time when that was the case. Altogether, UConn’s quarterbacks combined to go 5/20 for 24 yards. That’s 1.2 yards per attempt.
Name: Ronnie Bell Height: 6’0″ Weight: 190 lbs. High school: Kansas City (MO) Park Hill Position: Wide receiver Class: Fifth year senior Jersey number: #8 Last year: I ranked Bell # and said he would be a starting wide receiver with 43 catches for 670 yards and 4 touchdowns (LINK). He caught 1 pass for 76 yards and 1 touchdown and returned 1 punt for 31 yards. TTB Rating: 71
Bell was Michigan’s two-time defending champ when it comes to receiving going into 2021. Despite a lot of people thinking he wasn’t fast enough or big enough, he just kept coming through. And despite higher ranked receivers also existing on the roster, he kept outperforming them. I only gave him a TTB Rating of 71 coming out of high school, but I hopped on the bandwagon after watching him bounce off of tacklers over and over again, just like he did in high school. He might have better balance after contact than any Michigan receiver I remember.
And 2021 was off to a great start.
He made a spectacular one-handed grab in the opener that was somehow ruled incomplete.
And he made a 76-yard touchdown catch.
And he made a 31-yard punt return . . .
. . . and at the end of it, he tore his ACL.
He averaged 76 yards per catch and 31 yards per punt return, the best season in Michigan history.
With the miracle of modern medicine, Bell should be back to full speed to start the season. He’s already up to full speed in captain voting, being voted a captain for a second year in a row. I expect him to once again lead Michigan’s team in receiving, but the presence of a solid crew of receivers keeps him here at #9, one spot below last year’s rank. The team showed they could win without him, yes, but he’s an emotional leader who can do a lot of different things – catch, run after the catch, block, return, etc. – as well as make plays on deep, intermediate, and short routes.
The following players (listed in alphabetical order) are Michigan’s best bets, in my opinion, to be drafted in 2023. Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan teams have produced 6.3 NFL draft picks per class during his tenure, so it’s a good bet that Michigan gets around this number of players to be selected.
TE Erick All Senior Erick All was reportedly considering leaving the NFL after the 2021 season, but he decided to return. After a 2020 season in which he struggled with drops, he turned into a reliable target with 38 catches (second on the team) for 437 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a game-winning catch-and-run against Penn State. All is a solid blocker with good speed and run-after-catch ability, and he has a lithe 6’4″, 245 lb. frame. He probably won’t be first round material, but he could be a day two or three pick.