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Michigan WR Semaj Morgan discusses QBs, punt return, 'hungry' receiving corps, 'jaws dropping,' 'dawg' Amorion Walker, more

clayton-sayfieby:Clayton Sayfie06/11/24

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Michigan Wolverines football sophomore wide receiver Semaj Morgan played his role well last season, making several game-changing plays and racking up 22 catches, 271 total yards and 4 total touchdowns as a freshman. Now, he’s ready for more, as are his fellow wide receivers.

“My goal for my team is to not get comfortable with what we did last year, just keep pushing day by day,” Morgan said, noting that Michigan won the national championship in 2023. “We got some really good players on our team that not too many people know about, and they stayed here to step up. I just want us to not be complacent with anything, just keep working.

“Goal for myself, I just want to be who I’ve been in the past, just the way I played, the style I played in high school and growing up. I feel like last year I wasn’t really myself playing. I was just going in there as a role player, but this year my coaches got a lot of trust in me. I’m just ready to take on the role. And I just want to be myself.”

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The 5-foot-10, 176-pound West Bloomfield, Mich., native saw 18 of his 22 catches come within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, but he’s intent on proving his worth as a downfield threat, as well, like he did in high school.

“I can’t really tell you, but if my coaches let me loose, you’ll see,” Morgan said of what he envisions for 2024.

Michigan’s wide receivers will have to step up as a whole, after losing two NFL Draft picks in Roman Wilson (third round, Steelers) and Cornelius Johnson (seventh round, Chargers). Morgan and junior Tyler Morris have the most experience on the team, and U-M added two transfers this offseason in junior Amorion Walker (Ole Miss) and graduate C.J. Charleston (Youngstown State). Walker spent just one semester at Ole Miss before transferring back to Michigan, where he spent his first two seasons, including last year as a cornerback.

“Our room is really young, and during spring ball we were pretty light, but we got Amorion Walker and then we got another receiver out of the portal,” Morgan explained. “With the guys that I do know and that I’ve seen, we’re all hungry.

“That’s what I really like about our receiver room now: we’re all young, we’re all hungry and we want to get better. We’re not perfect, but we try to be close to it, because we don’t feel like [wide receivers] Coach [Ron Bellamy] moan.

“That’s something big for our receiver room. We’re gonna surprise a lot of people this year, because nobody really knows what we have. We had veterans in the room like CJ and Roman. That was the case with a lot of young guys on our team last year, there were a lot of older guys ahead of us. And this is the year that everybody’s gonna step up, I feel like. Because we lost a lot of guys, people are saying this, that, this, that — but they don’t really know shit.

“I feel like our whole team is going to surprise people, not just the receiver room. It’s a lot of young guys coming into their own this year that didn’t really get to play last year because of the older guys. They feel like they gotta make a statement, and our whole team feels like we gotta make a statement. It’s gonna be a surprise, for sure. Jaws dropping. Jaws dropping!”

Walker has just 1 career catch, but his Michigan teammates have expressed confidence that he can play a role this fall. Morgan competed in 7-on-7 with Walker as youth players and is excited he’s made the jump back to Ann Arbor and wide receiver.

“He’s gonna bring that dawg factor,” Morgan said. “I feel like he’s just like me. We got some dawgs in the room, and sometimes dawgs gonna be what they supposed to be.

“A lot of people, sometimes we just need pushing, but we’re all hungry. Amorion is a young guy, he’s got a lot of good touch on his game. He’s polished, and he’s young. And I’ve seen him play three years ago. I’ve seen him play a couple months ago in this season. He’s obviously gotten better throughout the years, and I feel like he’s ready to come in here.”

Semaj Morgan on Michigan quarterbacks: ‘They’re all doing good’

Michigan’s quarterback battle will rage into fall camp, with graduate Jack Tuttle, senior Davis Warren and junior Alex Orji appearing to be the top three contenders. Morgan has been pleased with all of them this offseason.

“My view of the quarterbacks is that they’re all doing good,” Morgan said. “I don’t really have a favorite. Any one of them throw the ball, I’ll catch it. We had a really good spring ball. You had a couple new guys, guys who were hurt, too, things like that.

“At the end of the day, it’s really no drop-off. I’m appreciate of that, too, because being at a school like Michigan there are going to be a lot of people with equal talent. I feel like one of those guys are going to separate themselves soon. I believe in all of them.”

Semaj Morgan working on punt return

Morgan didn’t get any game reps at punt returner until the 13th game of the season, then proceeded to return his first attempt (after fair catching one) 87 yards to the 5-yard line, setting up a touchdown by running back Blake Corum in a 26-0 victory over Iowa to win the Big Ten championship. All told, he brought back 3 punts for 101 yards on the season, including one in which he fumbled with Alabama recovering in the Rose Bowl.

Morgan has been working on his punt return skills with new special teams coordinator J.B. Brown this offseason.

“I carved it out for myself last year, but just because I played it in a few games last year doesn’t mean it’s just going to be waiting for me this year,” Morgan noted. “So during the offseason, I was working on my receiving, but also catching punts.

“I was talking to Coach J.B., our new special teams coach, and it was like the third day into the month, and he called me like, ‘Are you catching punts?’ I’m like, ‘Nah, I’m doing receiver work.’ He’s like, ‘You better be catching punts, because if you ain’t working, I’m not gonna put you there.’ I’m like, ‘For sure.’ I’ve been adding in the punts into my receiver training. Shout out to Coach B, because I’m always with him and he’s always getting me right.”

Morgan returned 12 kicks with a 15.5-yard average but revealed that he enjoys punt return more.

“I do both. During spring ball, I was doing both; we were all practicing both,” the Michigan returner said. “But I like punt return because there’s a lot of space.”

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