The question was simple. Eddie McDoom was asked if there was anything he can’t do.
The answer came without hesitation.
“No, I’m gonna do it all,” he said, with a smile cracking over his face.
Realistically, it’s not all that surprising. McDoom has never been short of confidence.
Last November, the then-freshman wide receiver stood in front of the media, and it took just over two minutes for him to declare that he was the fastest player on the Michigan football team’s roster. But what really stood out was the next assertion — that his sophomore season would be his breakout year.
Now, four months later, that sophomore season is approaching, and the Wolverines need McDoom’s prediction to come to fruition.
As is the storyline in virtually every phase of this Michigan team, the Wolverines are dealing with a roster that features a collection of talented — but young and inexperienced — players.
In McDoom’s case, he’s being looked to as one player among a group of receivers tasked with replacing the loss of Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and Jake Butt. That trio accounted for 138 of Michigan’s 228 receptions, 13 of the Wolverines’ 20 receiving touchdowns and 1,908 of the team’s 2,756 receiving yards in 2016.
McDoom, in his own right, enjoyed a successful season during his freshman campaign, albeit in a specialized role. In the jet sweep package, McDoom amassed 160 yards on just 16 attempts — good for exactly 10 yards per carry.
If there was a way to quantify McDoom’s speed, that may be it. And it’s that same speed that warranted the proliferation of the booming ‘Doom’ chant across Michigan Stadium last season — something he still cracks a smile at when remembering how he thought he was being booed the first time he heard it.
Now, though, the jet sweep package may not be enough for the Wolverines, and McDoom will need to be characterized for more than raw speed. Last year, McDoom notched just five catches on the receiving end. As the upcoming season grows closer, the sophomore wide receiver is out to change that.
“I feel like I can do way more than just be handed jet sweeps,” McDoom said. “I can go downfield, I can make the routes, I can make the catches, I can make the big plays that they’re asking for, and I’m trying to show it.”
Already, McDoom is taking the steps toward doing so. He indicated that he’s been taking reps receiving punts while also working in the slot and on the outside. But arguably the most important thing for McDoom, especially in a Jim Harbaugh-orchestrated offense, is the ability to block. In that regard, as in nearly every regard, McDoom has no doubt he can do it.
“Oh, I can block,” McDoom said. “It’s not an issue. If I need to go out there and hit somebody, I’m gonna go out there and hit somebody.”
And if there’s anything that could serve as validation of the progress McDoom has made, it would be praise from senior receiver Maurice Ways — one of a limited group of veteran receivers expected to see an increased role this season. Ways even went as far as to say he finds himself learning things from McDoom, such as how to get a good release off the line.
“He’s doing really well,” Ways said. “He’s playing fast, making plays and having fun doing it. He’s probably one of the most vibrant guys in the locker room.
“He just comes to work every day with a smile on his face, loving football, and he’ll be out in practice having a good time. I appreciate his enthusiasm he brings to the game, brings to practice, and it kind of rubs off on the rest of us.”
For McDoom, that enthusiasm is just one aspect of a personality more confident than a king at his own coronation. And as is quickly becoming the norm for him, Tuesday was a day void of hesitation. He said he can block. He said he can run the routes, make the catches and flash the big-play ability. He said he can do it all.
So the time is coming for everyone to find out, is this really Eddie McDoom’s breakout year?
“Hey, I think so,” Ways said. “Eddie has all the tools to be a great receiver. Like I said, the sky is the limit for him. He can be as good as he wants to be, as great as he wants to be. I’ve got all the confidence in him.”