Like jigsaw pieces, Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston and Jason Avant fit together to make something better than each player is alone.

The result is a receiving corps puzzle that the Boilermakers couldn’t solve on Saturday, and one that wowed Purdue coach Joe Tiller.

“I’m going to say this one last time: Right now, the Wolverines have the best corps of wide receivers

I have ever seen,” Tiller said. “These guys can go start at Miami (Fla.). Wherever you want to pick that has the best passing attack in America, this group of receivers can go there and beat out that group of receivers in my opinion.”

Each Michigan wideout brings something different to the field.

Edwards, the experienced leader of the group, has explosive athleticism that allows him to elevate over defenders and come down with the ball, like he did in Saturday’s third quarter for his second touchdown of the game. The junior is John Navarre’s favorite endzone target – he has nine touchdowns this season – and the player that defenses are afraid to let out of their sight.

Edwards sometimes helps the other members of Michigan’s receiving trifecta just by being on the field and drawing defenders.

“Braylon’s a big part of my success (because) guys look for Braylon a lot, and guys try to double-team him,” Avant said. “But you can’t really double-team him with other guys like me and Steve on the field.”

Breaston, known for his dazzling punt returns, gives Michigan the luxury of being able to mix things up on offense by using his speed.

Michigan threw to Edwards for its first touchdown Saturday, then used Breaston on a different type of play for its second. Tailback Chris Perry handed off to Breaston, who ran a 21-yard reverse into the endzone.

The slippery receiver’s quickness also helps him beat opponents’ secondaries. He has three receiving touchdowns and 307 yards in nine games.

Avant doesn’t have the blazing speed that Breaston or Edwards have, but he makes up for it with physical force. Avant is the rare receiver who can also lay down monster blocks, and he can shake off defenders to gain yards after the catch. He earned 90 yards on just five catches against Purdue. Avant has also become the go-to-guy in third down situations.

“I go out there and just play the best I can, if it’s on first down or third down,” Avant said. “It just seems like (Navarre) looks for me more on third down, and I just try to make the play.”

Purdue safety Stuart Schweigert found out first-hand how well the combination works.

“They’re good,” Schweigert said. “They’ve got great athletes. They have guys who will catch the ball and run around and do a lot of things with it.”

With all of that talent, it might seem that there wouldn’t be enough passes to go around, but as Edwards said, “it’s nothing like that.”

The three drive each other, but they aren’t in a tight battle for playing time because they can all contribute by playing to their individual strengths.

“We make each other better,” Avant said. “We challenge each other in practice. We challenge each other off the field to do the right thing.”

 

 

 

 

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