Why It's So Difficult for Freshman Receivers to Make an Instant Impact

Why It's So Difficult for Freshman Receivers to Make an Instant Impact

Football

Why It's So Difficult for Freshman Receivers to Make an Instant Impact

ANN ARBOR, Mich — The common person might not realize how difficult it is for a wide receiver to acclimate to an offense.

If you’re in your first year, you have to deal with getting off the line of scrimmage against other D-I players — whereas, at the high school level, you weren’t necessarily going against the best of the best.

You also have to run a precise route, because receiving has to do with timing. You won’t be the best athlete on the field like you maybe were in high school, so you can’t just out-athlete a defensive back.

And you also have to, you know, catch the ball.

The learning curve is high, which is why you don’t see a lot of first-year wide receivers making huge waves.

Even at Michigan, it took years for Braylon Edwards to become Braylon Edwards. Mario Manningham didn’t become a veritable deep threat until his second year, in 2006.

But, some do better than others, of course.

Grant Perry didn’t have to become the focal point his first year with the program in 2015, not with Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh split out wide. But, he still reeled in 14 receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown in just his freshman season.

He missed three games due to suspension in 2016, which hampered his stat-line, yet he still pulled in 13 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. In 2017, though, he had his best year yet, leading the team with 307 yards on 25 receptions.

Point being: it can take awhile for this whole receiving thing to catch on.

Now, Perry is doing his best to give back to his community — as in his local community — as in…his roommate in fall camp. If he can help cut a true freshman’s learning curve, he’s going to do everything in his power to do just that.

On top of that, Perry shares why it’s do difficult for first year receivers to acclimate and to do the job they’re asked to do out of the gates. It might seem easy enough, but it’s not always so.

“I get a first-hand of it this camp as well, because Ronnie Bell, the receiver who came in from Kansas City, freshman – I’m rooming with him, and he’s been asking me questions on questions in the hotel at night,” Perry said. “I’ve been quizzing him and drilling him and try to help him. Because that was me four years ago. So, I know the pain. But he’s picked it up really well.

“As a freshman coming in, you’ve got so many distractions. New place, you don’t know where you’re going. He just finished school, like summer school. He had a couple papers – it’s a lot of things to juggle especially when you’re coming in, and you’ve got this playbook and you’ve got the coaches. It’s a lot.”

So, all that said, how is Bell acclimating? According to Perry, quite well.

“He can jump out of the gym,” Perry said. “He goes and gets the jump balls. He’s explosive, too. Really fast, good hands. And he’s picked the playbook up really well, really fast. You tell him something and he does it right. That’s good to see.”

Time will tell whether or not we see Ronnie Bell strap it on in 2018, and if we do, if it will be for more than four games. But, with Michigan taking on Notre Dame on Sept. 1, certainly there’s a chance that, like Perry, he makes an appearance in his first career game on the road in the season opener.

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