Cornelius Johnson And Mike Sainristil Poised To Take Step Forward In 2020

Eric Rutter

In his time as Michigan's offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis has totally revamped the Wolverines' passing attack. At first, bigger-bodied receivers such as Donovan Peoples-Jones or Tarik Black took up the depth chart, but Gattis gradually began installing more explosive play concepts, ones designed to get the ball into U-M's skiller players' hands quicker.

As that transition has occurred, new, speedy receivers have been ushered into Michigan's receiving corps, and with Nico Collins's future up in the air still, the Wolverines will have a lot of new contributors on the field this fall.

Ronnie Bell will be one of the familiar faces in the lineup, and during today's media availability the reliable pass catcher discussed two players that he's watched grow a lot over the offseason-- Cornelius Johnson and Mike Sainristil.

"Like I said before, everybody has grown. You can see they've grown so much mentally, in the playbook and being able to play everywhere," Bell began. "As for guys that I think have made a jump, definitely CJ, Cornelius John and Mikey Sainristil. Both of those guys have been just dominant during the offseason and the little preseason we've been having."

Last season, Johnson and Saintristil were both used sparingly since other players with more experience still decorated Michigan's roster, but the two ascending athletes still had momentary flashes. Johnson hailed in his lone touchdown against Notre Dame last season, and Sainristil did the same, logging his singular trip into the end zone against Michigan State. 

"Those guys are going to have great years," Josh Gattis said on Wednesday. "I’m really excited about Mikey and CJ. It’s unfortunate because they were talented enough to be on the field last year. Although they both made plays as true freshmen and played as true freshmen, it was just the numbers game of how many guys that we were getting involved in the offense last year. They gained some valuable experience playing in-game action. Being able to see everything translate over. 

"There’s always a jump from year one to year two," Gattis said. "To see those guys make that jump this offseason from a skill standpoint has been really impressive. Those guys are going to have a bigtime impact on the offense."

With Johnson and Sainristil drawing praise from Michigan's most experienced receiver (assuming Collins does not return) and U-M's passing game architect, it is clear that both Wolverines are due for an increase in targets in 2020. Those two are part of why Gattis is so enthused about the talent Michigan has despite losing so many consequential Wolverine receivers over the last 12 months. 

"I feel great," Gattis said. "I think where we are, I don’t want to jinx us by any means, where we are in that receiver room right now, I think, is impressive. It’s one of the most impressive receiver rooms I’ve been around from an overall skill and depth standpoint. I didn’t feel this way last year, I felt there was room for growth and development when I got here. We’ve obviously got to be able to turn this potential to production and be able to display it on Saturday’s and not just over here at Schembechler Hall."

That is high praise from a coach that had Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy in his receiving room at the same time while at Alabama. 

Will Johnson and Sainristil live up to the hype? How do you see the pair fitting in with other receivers on Michigan's roster? Let us know!

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