Semaj Morgan warns opponents not to kick to Michigan return men, says Fredrick Moore runs routes like Jerry Jeudy

clayton-sayfieby:Clayton Sayfie04/12/24

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Semaj Morgan On Stepping Up As Leader, 'Don't Kick It To Us' As Punt Kick Returners Michigan

Michigan Wolverines football wide receiver Semaj Morgan is finishing up his freshman year of college, but he’s a year into his career, an early enrollee last offseason. Morgan is the wide receiving corps’ leader in career catches, with 22 for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns last season, adding 4 rushes for 67 yards and a pair of scores.

Morgan is young, he admitted, but he’s also a veteran, relatively speaking.

“I played a lot of minutes last year,” Morgan pointed out. “And a lot of coaches, a lot of my teammates are looking to me as a leader. This year, I’m really focused on trying to step up and become the type of leader by example. That’s something that I took from [former Michigan defensive back] Mike Sainristil — leading by example. I feel like that’s very important to do.”

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There aren’t many better leaders in recent Michigan football history than Sainristil, a two-time captain who led the Wolverines to the 2023 national championship. Morgan observed a lot by just watching him, and the two have had a bond since the wideout was in 10th grade.

“We were working out with the same wide receiver coach, until he switched to defense,” Morgan said of training even before he became a Michigan player. “That’s somebody who I took something from last year, and I feel like me being better is me trying to apply my everything, even outside of football, too — school. This year, our team has been really good in class, getting good grades. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not just about the field — it’s about everything you do in life.”

On the field, Morgan has been pleased with the way the Wolverines are working.

“Spring ball, man, has been great,” the Michigan receiver said. “It’s been a great couple weeks for us, really. It’s been real chippy, it’s been real energetic at practice, real competitive. And I just love that about our team. We got a lot of dawgs on our team, and it’ll be fun to see us play come fall time.”

The 5-foot-10, 176-pounder said all of the wide receivers have stepped up this spring, after Michigan lost Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson to the NFL.

“We all just play hard,” he said. “We go out there, practice hard, play hard. We run a lot as receivers, so in practice, we’ll be tired. But we all are hungry. We’re all in the building, extra hours, looking over plays, looking over drawings and things like that.”

Sophomore Fredrick Moore, another wide receiver who also arrived at Michigan last winter, has made strides this spring. His ball skills and route-running ability have stood out, per Morgan.

“Fredrick Moore, I’d say he’s like [Cleveland Browns and former Alabama receiver] Jerry Jeudy,” Morgan said. “He’s a great route-runner. He’s gonna catch the ball. Also, great at tracking [the ball], too.

“Somebody asked me about Fred, and I was like, ‘Y’all ever seen Jerry Jeudy run routes?’ And then somebody was like, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly what I said.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ Fred is the real deal, and I feel like it’s gonna be a great year for him.”

Morgan shined on special teams last season, returning 3 punts for 101 yards, including ripping off an 87-yard return in a 26-0 Big Ten championship game win over Iowa. He also brought back kicks in 14 of the Wolverines’ 15 outings.

He’s not the only one repping as a punt and kick returner this spring.

“We got [junior cornerback] Will Johnson back there, we got [junior defensive back] Zeke Berry back there, we got me, Fredrick Moore,” Morgan said. “Whoever’s back there is going to be dangerous for anybody, so don’t kick it to us. We all do both [kick and punt return]. So, don’t kick it to us, whoever’s back there.”

Morgan muffed a punt that Alabama recovered in last year’s Rose Bowl, one of his few costly mistakes on the season. The key point Michigan special teams coordinator J.B. Brown has been hammering home is securing the football.

“Coach J.B., he’s just been telling me, ‘Look, man, you’re a great athlete. When you get back there, just catch the ball,'” Morgan said H”e doesn’t make it too hard, he doesn’t over-coach it. He just tells me that, ‘Look, man, you’re an athlete. I believe in you. I want to put you back there. But when I put you back there, catch the ball.’”

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