In March, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh proclaimed that the trio of freshmen receivers — Darrius Clemons, Amorion Walker and Tyler Morris — are a “freak show.”
And on Saturday, in their first public performance, the early enrollees lived up to that moniker.
No one turned more heads during the Spring Game than Clemons. The four-star recruit reeled in the first touchdown of the game, making a diving catch in the endzone off a 35-yard throw. He finished the day with three receptions for 52 yards, along with a 21-yard pass during a trick play.
“We noticed as soon as he walked in the door that he’s physically put together,” senior quarterback Cade McNamara said of Clemons, who boasts a 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. “He’s a big dude, he’s got muscle, he’s got speed, he’s got strong hands, and I think we were able to just show that a little bit today. And I can’t wait to see where his talents go.”
Clemons committed to Michigan on National Signing Day on Dec. 15, choosing the Wolverines over Auburn and his home state school, Oregon. He came to Ann Arbor as the 31st-best receiver in the Class of 2022, according to 247Sports.
And, though merely an early-enrollee, he wasted little time making his presence felt.
“My first impressions, I was like, ‘That’s what a receiver should look like,’ ” junior running back Blake Corum said.
Corum remembers watching Clemons put up “crazy numbers” in the weight room, wowing in exercises like the vertical jump, broad jump and bench press.
“I was like, ‘I can’t wait to see him put on pads,’ ” Corum recalled. “And when he put on the pads, there was no disappointment.”
Clemons wasn’t the only member of the “freak show” to impress Saturday. Walker, a 3-star recruit, countered Clemons’ touchdown grab with a highlight reel of his own. On the ensuing drive for the Maize team, he reeled in a 39-yard catch, flashing his 6-foot-4 frame and elite speed.
And Morris, who didn’t play in the game, is the most highly-touted of the trio — a four-star recruit and the 18th-best receiver in his class.
“Once we start playing other teams, I’m gonna have a lot of dudes to throw to,” McNamara laughed afterwards. “And as we go into camp, as we’re finishing up spring, it’s just about finding the best way we can get balls to those guys.”
Maximizing the offense’s capabilities — and the roster’s talent — becomes the next predicament. And it remains unclear where exactly Clemons and Walker fit in the jigsaw puzzle that is divvying up playing time.
When it comes to making an impact in 2022, Clemons and Walker would appear to face an uphill battle. Michigan’s wide receiver room is an embarrassment of riches. The Wolverines return their top three wideouts — senior Cornelius Johnson, junior Roman Wilson and sophomore Andrel Anthony — along with Ronnie Bell, the No. 1 receiver in 2020 who suffered a torn ACL in last season’s opener. The top-three tight ends are back, too, and sophomore running back Donovan Edwards showed last season that he can be a high-impact player in the passing game.
As co-offensive coordinator Matt Weiss exclaimed last month, it’s “rich people’s problems.”
“We have a lot of weapons, and we want to use them all,” Weiss said. “… That’s one of the good challenges we have. We get to find all the ways to get the ball into these guys’ hands and make the offense go, and we’re excited about that.”
And if Clemons and Walker continue to perform like they have so far this spring, they may just force their way into that rotation even sooner than anticipated.