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Posted on Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

How different is the pro-style for Michigan's receivers? Very, but they're coming along

By Kyle Meinke


Senior wide receiver Junior Hemingway has 54 catches for 940 yards and seven touchdowns in his career at Michigan.

Angela J. Cesere |

All eyes have been on Denard Robinson and the junior’s transformation from spread-option to pro-style quarterback during the Michigan football team’s fall camp.

But here’s a question: How’s it going for the guys he’s throwing to?

Already missing starter Darryl Stonum for the season, the Michigan wide receivers are learning a new system that overhauls their route trees, requiring sharper, more nuanced cuts that put emphasis on timing between them and the quarterback.

“We’re doing more break in, break out, comebacks,” offensive coordinator Al Borges said. “They were a little more vertical here in the past, which fit their offense perfectly. It was exactly what they should have done.”

Robinson has completed more than 70 percent of his passes in organized drills — a good rate, surely, but one that is hard to quantify because the pass rushers wear winged helmets and aren’t hitting him.

Still, converting on 70 percent of his passes is better than converting on less than 70 percent of his passes. It shows the chemistry is improving in the passing game.

It all comes back to timing.


Roy Roundtree led Michigan last year with 72 catches for 936 yards and seven touchdowns.

Angela J. Cesere |

“You have to have the timing down in this offense because if the timing is off, then the quarterback is off,” junior receiver Roy Roundtree said. “Our receivers want the ball, so we got to get open and keep the timing good for Denard.

Where is that timing at now?

“We’re getting there,” he said. “We still have two more weeks to get ready.”

Roundtree is the leader of the receiving corps. He paced the Wolverines last year with 72 catches for 936 yards and seven touchdowns while playing primarily in the slot. He was named second-team all-Big Ten, and is one of the league’s top returners at the position this year.

Only, he’ll be doing it mostly from the outside with Stonum redshirting the season after being charged this summer with the second DUI of his career.

Roundtree will start opposite senior Junior Hemingway, who is Michigan’s best deep threat. He doesn’t have burning speed, but his 6-foot-1, 222-pound frame makes him a tough matchup for cornerbacks.

If Hemingway can stay healthy, Michigan will have a formidable 1-2 punch. The question, though, is do the Wolverines have depth after Roundtree and Hemingway? That is where Stonum's redshirt will really hurt the Wolverines.

“Good question,” coach Brady Hoke said the first week of camp. “There is some talent there, but … I don’t know who else.”

Obviously, there is work yet to be done.

One player who could pick up some of Stonum’s snaps on the outside is Jerald Robinson, a redshirt freshman from Canton, Ohio.

“I feel like he’s going to get time,” Roundtree said. “I talked to him the other day, like, ‘Look man, this camp, you got to stay focused, don’t get down because your legs are sore. That’s supposed to happen.’ Jerald’s been having a great camp because he wants to learn and he wants to get better. He can play.”

Robinson is 6-foot-1, 206 pounds, a big-bodied receiver like Hemingway, only teammates say he’s faster. He is not yet a finished product, certainly, but coaches have brought up his name several times as a guy who could help bolster Michigan’s depth.

“Jerald doesn’t know how good Jerald can be,” wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski said. “There’s a lot of times where he’s really, really come along. It goes back to this is just a process.

“There’s some things he looks really, really good at, and there’s some things that we’re going to continue to work with him on.”

Other players who could see time on the outside are sophomore Jeremy Jackson and junior Je’Ron Stokes.

On the inside, seniors Kelvin Grady and Martavious Odoms are expected to be Michigan’s top two slot receivers, with Jeremy Gallon also fighting for time.

Each is a small, shifty receiver, which was an ideal fit for former coach Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense. In the pro-sets, though, bigger bodies typically fare better.

Borges isn’t worried.

“I’ve had some big guys at that position,” he said. “At UCLA, it seemed all those guys were 6-3, 6-4 or taller. And then I was at places where we couldn’t get those guys, we would take a faster, smaller guys, like an Odoms or a Jeremy Gallon or someone like that.

“We found they don’t give you any less points if you’re 5-foot-7 or 6-foot-7. It’s six points one way or the other. So, if they can catch the ball in the end zone, catch the ball and play bigger than they are, we’ll find a place for them.

“I mean, I like big and fast — if you can get those guys, that ‘s what you like — but sometimes, some of the better players aren’t big and fast.”

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Blu n Tpa

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Then why is he called "Junior"?

Blu n Tpa

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:24 a.m.

Hey can you guys make up your minds? Is Hemmingway a Junior or a Senior?

1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 10:51 a.m.


1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:06 a.m.

Our staff is so classy and complimentary to the previous staff that failed. Its quite something to read their comments. Hopefully #21 stays healthy this year...he can be a big contributor. Looks like Roundtree has bulked up a bit. Playing in this scheme will help any WR who is hoping to get to the next level.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

Simple explanation for the Junior Hemingway photo: Hemingway is about to lateral the ball behind his back to Roundtree.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

Don - That's a snapshot of Hemingway running more than likely at full or close to full speed. Looking at the position of the ball he probably had it tucked properly before breaking free, as you pump your arms to create more speed the ball will not always stay firmly tucked, the arm motion itself will cause some separation, the ball is cradled against his forearm and in the outside arm. It is easy to knock the ball out this way from behind, hopefully, he'll cover with both hands as a defender comes from the rear or the safety across the top. Again, it's just a snapshot so it's hard to say just how he was carrying the ball, other than it's obvious from the photo that he broke into the open, the blurred defense is probably further away than what the photo show.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

As long as those guys stay fundamental--i.e. grip the ball with both hands when catching; tuck it in when running, run precise routes, etc---the receiving corps will be fine. Remember, Anthony Carter was "undersized" and was the best receiver Michigan ever had. Even Desmond was undersized at 5'10" but his fundamentals were second to none. Hopefully Odoms shows that his years of experience mean something.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Grady,Odoms, and Gallon are undersized for the slot in this system, but if they stay healthy we should be solid. All three guys are tough and can handle blocking assignments as well as getting open off a block. IMO Roundtree will struggle until he gets stronger; Junior Hemingway will be fine in this offense because of his size and strength.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:05 p.m.

It's coming back! What we've already seen! 4-yard out pattern on 3rd and 17! Every completed pass needs to have a couple laterals after the catch and a whole lot of fast guys running criss-cross sideline to sideline. That's our Crystal Path.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

That's the first thing I saw too Don. I don't know much, but I do know an exposed tip of the ball makes a nice target to be ripped from behind at the end of an open field run. We have been -32 in turnovers the last 3 years for a reason.


Sun, Aug 21, 2011 : 11:02 a.m.

Okay, I need a little help from the football technique guys on this board. Look at the picture and the way Hemmingway is carrying the ball. The top tip of the ball seems suspended in air and not tucked hard into his bicep ... he seems be just palming the ball. Typical? Or recipe for potential fumble? Perhaps it's open field and that provides greatest running speed? In traffic the ball comes in?

1st Down

Mon, Aug 22, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

it could just be the angle of the photo..he has it tucked properly and there could be some "arm" behind the ball holding it in place that we cant see... or it could be just that the photo was taken at that particular moment in time when he shifted the ball to the other arm or something....not much to worry about if he is in the open running down the sidelines...but if in traffic, he needs to do the "5 points of emphasis" technique that Freddy J gave a dissertation to the entire team on recently.