Michigan football getting WR Cornelius Johnson, LB Michael Barrett back in 2023
Michigan football has a front runner for its top wide receiver next season.
On Sunday evening, senior receiver Cornelius Johnson announced via Twitter that he’s returning to the Wolverines for the 2023 season.
“After considering great opportunities, I have decided to stay with the University of Michigan football team for the 2023 season,” his Tweet read. “I am excited to get back on Main Street with the crew. Thank you!”
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Johnson was one of the Wolverines’ top options in 2022, finishing third on the team in receptions (32), second in receiving yards (499) and first in receiving touchdowns (six). The 6-foot-3, 205-pound target played well in nonconference competition, catching seven passes for 117 yards and a TD in three games combined, but he slumped once Big Ten play came around.
The Connecticut native caught three passes or fewer in six of his first seven league games, including three games in which he was held under 12 yards receiving. It seemed his shining game was going to be his four catches for 58 yards and two TDs against Indiana on Oct. 15. But his day in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 26 will be remembered forever.
Midway through the second quarter, Johnson caught a third-and-9 pass and took it 69 yards for a touchdown. On U-M’s next offensive snap, Johnson caught a 75-yard touchdown over the middle on a skinny post that he took the distance.
Coach Jim Harbaugh credited Johnson for turning the tide for the Wolverines as he finished with four catches for 160 yards in Michigan’s 45-23 win over Ohio State.
Johnson totaled just three catches for 29 yards in ensuing the Big Ten championship game and Fiesta Bowl.
Johnson, who has 30 starts in 45 career games, led Michigan in catches (39) and receiving yards (620) in 2021, which led to lofty expectations for 2022, but Ronnie Bell quickly emerged as the top wide receiver.
Bell declared for the NFL draft and Andrel Anthony transferred to Oklahoma, which leaves Johnson and Roman Wilson (who hasn’t announced his 2023 plans) as the two leading returning options.
Senior linebacker returning for sixth season
Michael Barrett, the quarterback turned third-team All-Big Ten linebacker, is coming back to Ann Arbor for a sixth season.
The senior, who was voted the Wolverines’ Most Improved Player on Defense by his teammates, made the announcement on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.
“My time at the University of Michigan has given me things that I will take with me wherever I go,” Barrett’s post read. “I’ve made friends and made connections that will last a lifetime.
“With that being said, we’re only just getting started. I will be returning to the University of Michigan for my last year of eligibility to complete my master’s program and finish what I started with my brothers.”
Barrett started all 14 games for U-M last season, and finished with 72 tackles, five for loss, 3½ sacks and two interceptions. Both picks came on the road at Rutgers on consecutive drives; he returned the second pick for a touchdown.
Barrett was clearly undecided about 2023 when he spoke in December about his future options.
“Factors would just be to up my draft stock, to put better, more film on tape at the inside ‘backer,” Barrett said. “I feel like I don’t have as much film starting inside. That’s one factor.
“And I just don’t want to be too old, if that makes sense. I feel like I’ve been here too long. I don’t want everybody looking at me like an old man around here. Nah, I’m joking, but that’s one thing that is in the back of my mind.”
Michigan now appears to have an excess of linebacker talent.
The Wolverines will also return starter Junior Colson, in addition to the fast-rising Jimmy Rolder and Nebraska transfer Ernest Hausmann, the No. 1 rated player in the transfer portal according to 247 Sports. Nikhai Hill-Green, projected to be a starter in 2022 before sustaining a season-ending injury over the summer, may still play as well.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football getting WR Cornelius Johnson, LB Michael Barrett back