Michigan Football: Who will step up in Ronnie Bell’s absence?

Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell runs after making a catch against Western Michigan during the first half in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021.
Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell runs after making a catch against Western Michigan during the first half in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. /

Michigan football’s offense took a hit this weekend when wide receiver Ronnie Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury while returning a punt against the Western Michigan Broncos.

Prior to the injury, Bell was looking like he was about to put up a breakout season. His lone reception of the game leading up to the injury was a 76-yard touchdown.

Now, the Wolverines will need to find someone to replace their projected No.1 wide receiver, in just the second week of the season.

We’ll go over a few names that the Wolverines may turn to at wide receiver to replace the production that Bell would’ve provided this season.

  • Cornelius Johnson 

Cornelius Johnson may be the most obvious choice to step up in Bell’s absence.

The third-year wide receiver had 16 receptions for 254-yards and three touchdowns last season. His 16 receptions and 254 yards were the second most of any Michigan wide receiver in 2020 while his three touchdowns led the team.

Johnson has the ideal size for a No. 1 wideout at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds and combines that with solid speed that allows him to stretch the field. He won’t take the top off of every defense but he certainly has the potential to be a big impact player on deep passes.

With a career average of 15 yards per reception, Johnson has already shown the type of impact he could make on the field. Now with Bell out with an injury, Johnson could have that chance to be more consistent in his playmaking.

  • AJ Henning

AJ Henning is the most intriguing option to step up in Bell’s absence. He’s an exciting playmaker who has fantastic speed and has a threat to score a touchdown anytime he touches the ball. This past weekend, he notched his first career touchdown on an end-around that went 74 yards for the score.

Henning may not be the biggest wide receiver in the world but in college football, we’ve consistently seen smaller wide receivers be amongst the best in the country. Could he be the next one in line?

  • Daylen Baldwin

A third wide receiver to keep an eye on is the senior transfer from Jackson State who could be the X-factor of the group. After posting solid numbers in his career with Jackson State and Morgan State, Daylen Baldwin moved to Ann Arbor, expecting to be a key rotational piece in the offense.

While he still will be, he now has the chance to become an even bigger part of the offense. Like Johnson, Baldwin has good, ideal size at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds. He possesses quality speed and hands that could allow him to grow into a nice role.

At the FCS level, Baldwin averaged over 15 yards per catch and with the Wolverines, he’s already proven to be able to make the big plays, scoring his first touchdown at the FBS level on Saturday, a 69-yard touchdown reception out of the hands of JJ McCarthy.

  • Erik All

Finally, not technically a wide receiver, tight end Erik All could be the one to emerge and benefit the most from Bell’s injury.

All had a solid 2020 season and earned his first career start on Saturday, bringing in a team-leading three receptions for 23 yards. He may not end up being a big-play threat but he could develop into someone this season that could be a reliable target for Wolverines’ quarterbacks.

Having a solid safety valve in the middle of the field is never a bad thing.

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