Michigan’s spring game is officially a wrap as the Blue Team defeated the Maize Team in what turned out to be a very close contest.
The game itself wasn’t terribly exciting but a few guys popped and several things stood out over the course of four quarters.
1. Mike Sainristil playing both ways
Earlier this spring we learned that Mike Sainristil would be getting a hard look at cornerback and we saw him there a lot today. Seeing him there wasn’t a surprise but seeing him thrive was to some degree. He was a standout defensive back in high school but it’s a big leap from high school football in Massachusetts to the Big Ten. Sainristil looked plenty comfortable covering receivers. Of course, he still looked comfortable playing receiver as well, even thought he didn’t have a catch today. He did, however, record a pass breakup on a deep ball, which was his play of the day. Sainristil had already proved himself as a solid wide receiver, so it’s going to be really interesting to see how he’s deployed in the fall.
2. Kalel Mullings at running back
Coming out of high school, Kalel Mullings was a pretty touted running back — some schools actually preferred him there. At Michigan, he’s been exclusively a linebacker until this spring. At 6-1, 236 pounds, Mullings is a load but he showed today that he can move as well. The third-year player only carried the ball four times but he paced the Maize team with 36 yards including a 21-yarder, which was the longest by any running back on the day. Michigan is pretty well set at running back with guys like Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards poised to break out in a major way, but if he’s called upon in short yardage or goal line situations this fall, it looks like he’ll be ready to roll.
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3. Darrius Clemons is a dude
At 6-3, 205 pounds (and in the No. 0 jersey), Clemons stands out among his peers. As a true freshman, Clemons obviously has a lot to learn about the wide receiver position but he’s got the physical tools to play immediately and he put them on display today. He paced all pass catchers with 52 yards on three grabs and showed of his speed, range and hands on an absurd 35-yard snag in the end zone. Michigan’s wide receiver room is loaded and Clemons is one of the newest reasons why.
4. Other freshmen also look the part
As a freshman, Clemons is one of the first players you’d send off the bus, but he’s not alone. Touted cornerback Will Johnson already looks game ready as well. In that special No. 2 jersey, and with his long arms on his 6-3 frame, he looks prepared and equipped to lock down Big Ten receivers already. Edge rusher Derrick Moore also looks like he’s been in college for a couple of years already. Listed at 6-4, 250 pounds, Moore has length, but he’s stout and put together already. There’s no young-body lankiness in him and he looks like could at least provide depth, if not more, this fall. We likely won’t see him this fall, but quarterback Alex Orji is PUT TOGETHER. He’s all of 6-2, 226 pounds and he’s got an absolute rocket for an arm. He wasn’t overly accurate today, but he showed the arm strength and the athleticism that made him coveted by many schools at several positions. The Texas native went just 1-for-7 on the day through the air but had the longest rush regardless of position with a 23-yard keep on a zone read. Finally, tight end Colston Loveland flashed some ability on a nice 31-yard grab thrown by fellow tight end Erick All. The rookie is a little thin still at 6-5, 230 pounds, but you can see the long arms, the stride and the hands that give him a lot of upside.
5. Jaylen Harrell could be ready to take a leap
With Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo getting ready to play on Sundays, Michigan fans are very curious about who will step up and replace them. Jaylen Harrell might end up being one of those guys. The third-year Wolverine had three total tackles including a sack and a tackle for loss and also forced a fumble. He looks like an oversized running back at 6-4, 242 pounds and in the No. 32 jersey, but he’s all about getting after the quarterback. Last year in spot duty he showed the athleticism, burst and bend necessary to pressure opposing QBs and he built on that today. No one expected Ojabo to be as good as he was in 2021; Harrell might be that guy in 2022.