It didn’t take long for Eddie McDoom to become one of the most recognizable players on the Michigan football team.
A backup receiver as a freshman, McDoom — now a sophomore — had a defined role: resident jet sweep expert.
Lining up mostly as a slot receiver, the sight of McDoom streaking across the formation before the snap to take a handoff became his trademark. The crowd would roar his name, perhaps sounding like a cascade of boos to less attuned ears, but always in approval.
That was McDoom: crowd-pleaser, novelty and one-trick pony. Yes, he played receiver, and as a freshman backing up established starters in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, touching the ball 21 times was decent — except only five of those were receptions, and the other 16 were hand-offs.
Granted, those 16 rushes went for 160 yards at an average of 10 per carry, yet a bigger question remained: would McDoom actually, well, receive? And while it may be difficult to find an answer to that question before Sept. 2, McDoom has certainly been working to prove he can do more than take jet sweeps — by practicing at every receiver spot.
“As of right now, it’s everywhere,” McDoom said Friday night. “I can’t even tell you. It’s everywhere. It’s just putting me in this spot, that spot. It’s just seeing where I fit and what fits me.
“… I’m learning every position right now. Right now I’m learning the slot, the outside, everything. It’s not one position I’m put on — they want me to learn everything, so that’s what I’m doing.”
Confidence is a big part of McDoom’s personality. He’s never been afraid to let people know of his high expectations for himself, which doesn’t make it surprising that he said repping at all those different positions isn’t “a big challenge.” The way he describes it — work hard, listen to the coaches, do what is asked and learn the playbook — even makes it sounds simple and straightforward.
But what may be the most difficult part of McDoom’s development may not even be learning all other positions. It may be beating out equally hungry teammates for snaps — receivers that, for what it’s worth, McDoom says have bought in and feels like will have a big year. And though he did also say that “everyone is fast,” McDoom wasn’t willing to give up his self-claimed title of fastest man on the team.
“Me, (Kekoa) Crawford, Donovan (Peoples-Jones), we all tease about it — who’s the fastest,” McDoom said. “I feel like I’m always going to be the fastest. I’m never going to say someone can beat me in a race. … I just feel like no one’s going to beat me in a race.”
McDoom did double back and say that he lost to Peoples-Jones in the spring, before he redeemed himself and by beating Peoples-Jones in subsequent rematches.
And in the process of explaining his personal mindset when it came to races — ‘to be number one, you have to have that confidence’ — McDoom revealed his outlook for the entire team.
Michigan may have lost many of its most significant contributors, but that hasn’t fazed McDoom or any of his teammates.
“We think we’re going to win this year,” McDoom said. “That’s the mindset. You come in every season and you want to win. There’s no next year, it’s this year. We’re going to come in and grind, and we’re going to come in and fight.”
And regardless of any debate over who’s truly the fastest on the team, McDoom says everyone has “come together” in mutual pursuit.
“We’re not looking for next year,” McDoom said, “we’re looking for now, and that’s our mindset.”
Special thanks to The Michigan Insider’s Josh Henschke for providing The Michigan Daily with audio from an open interview session with Eddie McDoom.