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Replacing Ronnie Bell: Michigan football wide receiver ready for a challenge in 2023

This Michigan football wide receiver is ready to step up in 2023.



Michigan football wide receiver, Ronnie Bell, Roman Wilson
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

During Week 2 of the 2022 season, JJ McCarthy stepped up and took control as QB1 for the Wolverines, leading his team to an impressive 13-1 campaign with a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff appearance. Last year, McCarthy’s favorite receiving target was 5th-year wide receiver Ronnie Bell, who was undoubtedly impressive in the Maize and Blue. Now, senior Michigan football wide receiver Roman Wilson needs to step up and fill the void left by Bell’s departure.

Michigan football wide receiver needs to step up with Ronnie Bell gone

This fall, Michigan football wide receiver Roman Wilson is poised to become JJ McCarthy’s top pass-catcher, a role that used to be occupied by long-time standout Ronnie Bell. Bell was a fan favorite and a standout wide receiver for the Maize and Blue throughout the Shea Patterson, Joe Milton, Cade McNamara, and JJ McCarthy eras of the Wolverine offense.

While Ronnie Bell was always Michigan’s top wide receiver, Roman Wilson has also proven himself to be a notable threat during the last two seasons of Michigan football. With a lot on the line for the Maize and Blue in 2023, Wilson will need to step up into a much larger role this fall.

“For us to be able to replace Ronnie, it’s gonna be hard,” Wilson said, according to The Michigan Daily. “He’s someone who’s very passionate about the game and always ready to work and someone that’s always motivated … I’m not gonna say it’s gonna be hard to replace him, but it’s gonna be hard to do the things that he did on the field consistently.”

Wide receiver depth in question ahead of the 2023 season

The 2023 Michigan football wide receiver room is facing more departures than just Ronnie Bell. After the season ended, a few other wideouts, including AJ Henning and Andrel Anthony, entered the transfer portal. Although Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson will be returning this year, the Wolverines are facing depth concerns, which means new players will need to step up in their pursuit of a conference championship and more.

“One thing I do to help fill the void is step into his leadership role a little bit and help the young guys coming up,” Wilson said. “Besides me and (Johnson) other guys are gonna have to play who haven’t really played a lot of minutes this year. Just me helping them and kind of pushing them into the right direction is going to help a lot.”

The Michigan offense needs to be more diverse in pursuit of a national title

If there’s one thing that has become evident over the past few seasons, it’s that Michigan football requires a more diverse offense to have a shot at contending for a national title. While the Wolverines have made two consecutive appearances in the College Football Playoff, they are currently 0-2 and have yet to hold a lead in a playoff game. In the upcoming year, JJ McCarthy and the Michigan football wide receiver corps must make an even greater impact to overcome their postseason struggles and secure the program’s first national championship in almost three decades.

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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. Right now, CJ is the publisher of Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. Previously, CJ has made stops with Fansided, The Michigan Daily, and more.