Eddie McDoom knew they were saying his name, but he had to process it for a moment first.
The freshman receiver with a name befitting a comic book hero had never heard a crowd yell “dooooom” before. Not in high school, not growing up, not until 109,000 did it at Michigan Stadium on Sept. 3.
“At first it sounds like ‘Boo,’ ” McDoom said Tuesday. “When I’m putting two and two together, I’m like, it’s ‘Dooom,’ but it sounds like ‘Boo.’ ”
The truth is, Michigan’s first-year standout hasn’t given anyone a reason to boo. Through eight games, McDoom has already piled up 12 carries as a receiver. He has taken them for 148 yards and added four catches for 53 yards.
The bulk of those yards have come via the jet sweep, a reverse or a play designed to look like sweep but evolving into something else. McDoom said his favorite so far was a reverse he ran with fifth-year senior receiver Jehu Chesson last week against Michigan State, but he has also run a play where he mimicked a sweep, only to go out for a pass.
McDoom said that when he arrived on campus this summer he didn’t realize he would be so involved so soon. It had been just months since he was playing at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, Fla.
But Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno saw potential in McDoom right away.
“He’s very fast,” Drevno said Wednesday. “Doesn’t say much. Unbelievable worker. You put him out there, he’ll just keep going and going and going. He’s a playmaker, and I knew it when he walked in the doors, just during training camp, you could see he had the speed, he had the skillset that you really like in a football player.”
The result has been an impact larger than might have been expected from a freshman with just 16 touches. When McDoom comes into a game, defenses have to prepare for him to get the ball. He said that the variations off the sweep were installed in the beginning, which makes sense, because otherwise defenses could key in on stopping the rush to the edge.
But even if defenses did know what was coming, it would be no guarantee they could stop him. McDoom considers himself the fastest player on the team, though he has yet to race any of the expected challengers. Fifth-year senior receiver Jehu Chesson has long been considered the leader, but when Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was asked if McDoom was as fast as Chesson, he posited another option.
“How is (redshirt sophomore linebacker Jabrill) Peppers not the fastest guy on the team?” he wondered.
As a competitor, it’s unlikely McDoom would ever outright concede the title of fastest player willingly. But on Tuesday, he went a step further than non-concession.
“Jabrill is fast,” McDoom said. “But I feel like I can take him.”
As fast as McDoom is, he has the confidence to match. He declared his intentions to have a breakout season next year (“I’m pretty sure I’m going to blow up,” he said), and with what he’s shown already, the possibility is hard to dispute. But he stops short of taking full credit for all he has accomplished.
When asked about his role as the go-to jet sweeper, McDoom deflected.
“It’s not really mine,” he said. “I just, I don’t know, I just show the speed. Show I’m the fastest guy here, that’s how I’m always going to think. Speed is my thing. So when they give it to me, I try to make the most of it.”
Going forward, Drevno said, there are “lots” more things Michigan can do out of the jet sweep package, both with McDoom and with others. They’re always looking to get more dynamic, he said, and with McDoom, dynamic seems to be the norm.
But Drevno was also sure to clarify that his freshman receiver could do more than sweeps. That speed lends itself well to deep balls, too.
Seeing deep balls thrown his way seems to fit with McDoom’s plan for a breakout 2017, but for now, the freshman is enjoying every sweep, reverse or decoy play thrown his way.
“I didn’t know I was going to make this much of a splash,” McDoom said. “I’m just taking every day as a gift. I’m just going with it.”