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Now wearing No. 8, Tyler Morris looks to fill the sizable shoes of Ronnie Bell

The Michigan Wolverines have a new No. 8 on their sidelines, and he is looking to make an immediate impact.



Michigan football Tyler Morris
Nov 5, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Tyler Morris (13) signals for a first dow in front of Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Mohamed Toure (8) during the second half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

ANN ARBOR, MI — A season ago, 5th-year senior wide receiver Ronnie Bell quickly became the focal point of Michigan’s solid passing attack. Despite tearing his ACL in Week 1 of the 2021 season (during the Wolverines’ 47-14 win over Western Michigan), it was clear that Bell was JJ McCarthy’s favorite pass-catcher from the very beginning. Now, with Ronnie Bell leaving the program for the NFL Draft, Michigan football needs a new face to step up and fill Bell’s sizable shoes: Tyler Morris.

Michigan football is hopeful that Tyler Morris catches his stride in 2023

Even if you have been following Michigan football for quite some time, there is a good chance that you have not heard the name Tyler Morris before. Out of high school, Morris was rated as a four-star recruit by 247 Sports, and ranked as the No. 133 player in the nation, the No. 22 wide receiver in his class, and the No. 4 player in the state of Illinois — he signed with Michigan as a member of the 2022 recruiting class.

Yet, during Morris’s senior year of high school, he tore his ACL, which has largely hindered him throughout his college playing career thus far. Heading into the 2023 season, Morris looks to be back at full strength. A season ago, Tyler Morris donned the No. 13 jersey, which has been frequently worn by fan favorites — such as Eddie McDoom — in the past; however, in 2023, Morris will pay tribute to former Michigan football standout Ronnie Bell and don the No. 8 jersey.

What can Wolverines fans expect from Morris this season?

If Michigan football is lucky, Morris will live up to the jersey number and step into a starting role — Morris knows that there is a lot to learn, but he is up to the challenge.

“I feel like it’s going good. For me just a lot more comfortable,” Morris told the media during the Wolverines’ spring practices. “Last year, freshman year, you’re trying to figure everything out. You don’t know the offense, you don’t really know just how to program works completely. I was still trying to come back from my knee a little bit. So this year, I feel like I’m just more comfortable, used to things, know how it goes. So it’s not too much, trying to figure everything out as much.”

This year’s Michigan football offense is incredibly fast, and with that speed comes a lot of danger for opposing defenses.

“I think just how fast it goes. We’re putting plays in, everything’s moving fast, you got to figure everything out,” Morris said. “There’s different situations that in high school you’re not thinking about that. There’s just — you’re kind of just playing football. So just a lot more thinking and details that go into it now.”

If you want to play for Michigan football as a wide receiver, you’re going to need to know how to block. There is no getting around that fact — the Wolverines simply run the football too often for anyone that touches the field to not get out front and block.

“I have no issue with blocking. That’s just part of the game,” Morris said. “You can’t be a receiver and expect to only go catch to score touchdowns and all that. Especially being at our school, we’ve got great backs. So we’re going to run the ball and you’ve got to be able to block. I just feel like it’s a mindset being physical and not being scared to go hit somebody.”

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CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball as a member of the credentialed media at both schools. Right now, CJ writes for Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. He also does some credentialed basketball coverage. Previously, CJ has made stops with sites like GBMWolverine, Saturday Blitz, Steeler Nation, and more.