ANN ARBOR — Shea Patterson already is down one playmaker.
Sophomore receiver Tarik Black, who missed 10 games last season with a broken foot, will miss “some weeks,” according to coach Jim Harbaugh, with a fractured right foot, the opposite foot that was injured in 2017.
Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf released a statement Sunday that read, “The Michigan Football program announced that wide receiver Tarik Black sustained a right foot injury at Saturday's practice. Tarik is currently being evaluated and no definitive time frame has been determined for his return to play.”
Black was Michigan’s leading receiver last season before his injury, with 11 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown in three games. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver was expected to have a breakout year and be one of the Wolverines’ biggest playmakers.
He headlines a young but capable group of receivers — sophomores Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins and redshirt freshman Oliver Martin. Senior Grant Perry anchors the receiving corps.
“I like the way our receivers have been coming along, it’s been a good camp,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve come so far in training camp and in spring practice. Coach [Jim] McElwain’s done a fabulous job. So has [graduate assistant] Roy [Roundtree]. I’ve seen real, tangible improvement from our entire receiver corps.”
Michigan had four receivers transfer during the offseason after the underclassmen emerged, which indicated their playing time would dwindle — Eddie McDoom to South Florida, Drake Harris to Western Michigan, Maurice Ways to California, and Kekoa Crawford remains undecided on his destination.
With Black sidelined, it presents an opportunity for Collins to make himself known outside of what coaches and teammates have said about the Alabama native.
“Nico Collins has really been playing well,” junior offensive lineman Ben Bredeson said. “He just seems to be catching everything. It seems like whenever we’re getting in the red zone and we need a touchdown, Nico’s getting it for us.”
In All or Nothing, the extensive Amazon documentary featuring the 2017 season, Black’s injury was highlighted, showing the emotional toll it took on him and his mother. When he met with reporters last week, he gave a glimpse into his excitement for this year and the sorrow from 2017.
“I just want to be out there and help the team, help my team win,” Black said. “I wasn’t able to do that. It kind of bit me up a little bit.”
The 14th-ranked Wolverines open the season at No. 12 Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
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