The Rising Freshmen: Wide Receivers

Football, Recruiting

Gradually over the offseason, The Wolverine Lounge will break down Michigan’s rising freshman class, position-by-position, in long-form. This is the first edition.


Cornelius Johnson

* Physicality / gets off press coverage 

* Hands 

* Field Awareness / working the sideline 

* Top end speed / creating separation 

The first thing that stands out when watching the 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver is his frame. Johnson is a physical specimen who has the ideal frame for a Big Ten wide receiver. Johnson  could add another 10 pounds to make an even tougher matchup for smaller, less physical cornerbacks. Already at 195, Johnson’s size allows him to beat press coverage with ease, as he was routinely getting past his defender at the All-American Bowl. To go with his size, Johnson possesses rare 4.55 speed — that presents matchup challenges regardless of where he lines up. Johnson works the sidelines extremely well, and has excellent body control. Johnson excels at making acrobatic sideline catches and his superb field awareness allows him to routinely get a foot in bounds. Johnson also does a great job high pointing the ball and has excellent hands. As a route runner, Johnson can improve in breaking down to avoid rounding off his cuts to help gain separation against faster, more athletic defensive backs he will be competing against in college. 

The bottom line for Cornelius Johnson is that he is an underrated player that will absolutely compete early in his career at Michigan. With Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins as juniors, seeing the field as a freshman may be a stretch, but Johnson is a sure bet to be ready to fill in when an opening arises. He has incredible athletic potential with a great frame to add more weight to be a big, physically imposing, Big Ten wide receiver. 

Quintel Kent

* Quick off LOS 

* Good hands 

* Gets behind defense 

Quintel Kent is simply a playmaker. The 6-foot, 170-pound wide receiver out of Ohio reminds me a lot of rising sophomore wide receiver, Ronnie Bell. Kent is a quick, sure-handed receiver built for the slot — but his style of play is better suited to be an outside receiver. Kent uses his 4.55 speed to get behind the defense. At the next level, Kent will need to refine his route running when he is unable to solely rely on speed to beat receivers. If Kent is to play on the outside at Michigan, he will surely need to add at least 10 pounds to get off of jams and press coverage. 

For Quintel Kent, a year or two with the strength and conditioning program will be key. He will most likely have to wait his turn to see the field. He’s an explosive playmaker, but with a plethora of talented wide receivers on the roster, playing time will be tough to come by in the immediate future for Kent.

Giles Jackson:

* Quick 

* Great hands 

* Creates separation 

Giles Jackson is a type of playmaker Michigan hasn’t had in years. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound receiver is a lightning bolt. When Jackson gets the ball, it’s a big play waiting to happen. He is incredibly quick and shifty, which allows him to get open immediately. Getting the ball into Jackson’s hands via slants and quick-hitting routes is his biggest strength. He will almost always make the first defender miss, and it takes more than one guy to bring him down because of how slippery he is. Once he finds space, Jackson is difficult to catch due to his legitimate 4.43 speed. Jackson will play the slot at Michigan, and is the exact type of playmaker that new play-caller Josh Gattis wants to get the ball to in space.  

Because of how unique of a talent Jackson is, he may see the field early in his career. There is not currently another player on the roster with a similar skillset. Giles will compliment the current wide receivers so well as he adds a completely different dynamic to the offense. If Giles sees the field early in his career, it’s because of his playmaking with the ball in his hands on quick hitters which is exactly what Michigan has been lacking in recent years. 

Mike Sainristil

* Quick 

* Explosive

* Great route runner 

When watching the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the year, much like Giles Jackson, his explosiveness stands out. The stop-and-go, quick-twitch movements jump out. Sainristil (5-foot-10 170 pounds) is a leaner, longer version of Jackson — but still possesses that lightning-in-a-bottle skill set. Much like Jackson, Sainristil’s best work comes after the catch. He has excellent ball skills and is a great athlete with the ball that always gets positive yards, even when nothing seems to be there. 

Sainristil is another perfect example of the type of player Josh Gattis wants to get in space, because he does possess that quick-twitch speed and athleticism that Michigan has been without for recent memory. 

U-M will look to get him the ball quick on slants and screens, and let him go to work with the ball in his hands.

Although Sainristil is recruited as an athlete, he is projected to start on offense for the Wolverines. Sainristil will contend to play in the slot against the likes of Ronnie Bell, Giles Jackson and Oliver Martin. Playing time early is up in the air because of the transition in offensive philosophy we do not yet know how Michigan will use a Sainristil type of player. It is not out of the question, however, that Sainristil may see the field early in his Michigan career. 

Overall: 

Overall in the 2019 recruiting class, Michigan brought in four talented receivers. Their recruiting haul consists of two quick slot receivers, a big outside receiver and a smaller outside receiver that excels at getting behind the defense. Quintel Kent is a sure-handed outside receiver that can be a solid all around wide receiver capable of getting behind the defense. Johnson is surely underrated as one of the safest bets to be a big-time player in the class. Johnson will be an excellent future wide receiver to take over when the rising junior trio of Peoples-Jones, Collins and Black move on. Jackson and Sainristil will have their hand in changing the offensive style under Gattis, as they possess speed that the perennial power houses like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Clemson have had, but Michigan has been lacking.

The upside of the 2019 receiving corps is giant, and Michigan did exceptional work recruiting this position group.

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  Comments: 2


  1. Loved the article!! Do you see George johnson playing somewhere other than receiver?


    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. Johnson will most likely end up at receiver. However, projecting him and breaking down his film as a receiver is a challenge because he played quarterback in high school.