Don’t tell Ronald Bellamy that this year’s Michigan receiving corps lacks a go-to guy. Unless you want to get burned.
“When an article in the student newspaper claims that the receiving core is weak just because Marquise (Walker) is gone, that lights a little fire inside you,” Bellamy said.
The senior wideout, who’s coming off an admittedly disappointing season, is primed and ready to “take over” and make up for Walker’s graduation.
“Last year was horrible for me,” said Bellamy, who had just 14 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns last season. “I couldn’t get healthy at all last year.
“Now it’s time for me to step up, and I have to take over. I’m going to do anything to take over and help this team win.”
Walker exploded last season, racking up more than his fair share of the slack after David Terrell went pro by grabbing a career-high 86 catches for 1,143 yards. Walker also made the big plays, whether it was on offense or special teams, and scored 11 of Michigan’s 19 receiving touchdowns.
This year, Bellamy says it’s his turn.
“It’s a cycle,” said Bellamy, whose career numbers are 21 catches for 358 yards and four touchdowns. “Marquise stepped up when Dave (Terrell) left, and now I have to do it since Marquise is gone. It’s the cycle, and I’m ready for it.”
Bellamy said he’s bigger, stronger and faster than he was last season, and ready to flourish in a “receiver-friendly” offense installed by new offensive coordinator Terry Malone.
Utilizing crossing routes – which are the bread and butter of the new offensive scheme – Bellamy led all Michigan receivers Saturday at the spring game with four catches for 54 yards.
“Ron Bellamy is going to be the leader of our group because he’s got the most experience,” Michigan receivers coach Erik Campbell said. “These guys have to do it by committee, chip in together to carry the load.”
Bellamy won’t have to do it alone, since Michigan’s receiving group should have some depth. This was evidenced by the performance play of a few underclassmen.
Sophomore Braylon Edwards was quick, elusive and hard to take down on Saturday, catching two passes for 20 yards. Redshirt freshman Tim Massaquoi used his 6-foot-4, 220 pound frame to add another dimension to Michigan’s offense on Saturday. He made two catches, with his last one a 21-yard touchdown pass from Jermaine Gonzales. Massaquoi snagged a short pass over the middle and then beat several members of the Michigan secondary to the sideline and in for the score.
“I was relieved to get (to the end zone),” said a smiling Massaquoi. “It was my first time being there, so I’ll try and get back there again.”
His redshirt year “helped me get stronger and know the offense better, and just concentrate on catching the ball and getting adjusted to the quarterbacks.”
Along with other veterans such as Calvin Bell – who was a not-so-close second to Walker last season with 21 catches for 236 yards – and Tyrece Butler, the Wolverines feel they have a solid and deep class.
“We got a good solid crew,” Michigan quarterback John Navarre said. “We don’t have a superstar like we had in Marquise, but I think they’re all superstars in their own right.”