On Wednesday afternoon, mere hours after the Big Ten announced it will start its fall season on the weekend of Oct. 24, reports indicate that Nico Collins and Dylan McCaffrey will not be taking part.
Collins’ decision has been widely anticipated as a possibility since the season came into question in the spring. The senior receiver posted 729 receiving yards and seven touchdowns last season and has been projected as a first-round pick by ESPN’s Todd McShay last month.
His decision follows those of junior right tackle Jalen Mayfield and senior cornerback Ambry Thomas to declare for the draft. The news was first reported by Sports Illustrated after Collins signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus.
In Collins absence, junior receiver Ronnie Bell will likely become the Wolverines’ top target. A season ago, he caught 48 passes for 758 yards and a touchdown. Sophomores Mike Sainristil and Giles Jackson will also likely see larger roles, after the departures of Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, in addition to Collins.
McCaffrey’s decision, which was first reported by the Detroit News, comes as more of a surprise. Following the departure of Shea Patterson, who McCaffrey had backed up the past two years, the senior was widely anticipated to be Michigan’s starting quarterback this season.
Additionally, McCaffrey participated in the #WeWantToPlayNOW protest on Sept. 5, suggesting that he would not sit out for COVID-19-related reasons. However, with early reports from fall camp indicating that junior Joe Milton had established himself as the starter, McCaffrey is set to graduate in December and is expected to pursue a transfer. He has two years of eligibility remaining.