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Orji, a 6-foot-3, 236-pound sophomore, may as well have been built in a lab.
Although J.J. McCarthy is slated to start at quarterback for Michigan this fall, Jim Harbaugh is of the belief that it is his responsibility to get his best players on the field by any means possible.
Even if that requires getting creative.
Alex Orji is one of those guys that Harbaugh wants to get in the game. He’s too good of an athlete not to see time in any capacity.
Orji was dominant both through the air and on the ground as a senior in high school. His 2,064 passing yards and 23 touchdowns with just eight interceptions was impressive, but his 1,187 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing was even more so. Especially for someone of his size and stature.
Arm tackles simply do not cut it when Orji has the ball in his hands. He’s a physical, downhill runner who Harbaugh once described as “Herschel Walker playing quarterback.”
To try and best utilize Orji’s skillset, the staff in Ann Arbor had an idea. They are getting him involved in the return game.
Harbaugh said that his team has a “secret plan” for Orji and went so far as to say that he has “a chance to be maybe one of the greatest kick-returners of all-time.” However, by revealing the “secret plan,” the plan is no longer a secret.
Jim Harbaugh ruined his own secret plan.
Before Orji can be a legitimate option as a returner, the Wolverines need to get better.
We have to improve in our kickoff return blocking before I would agree to have Alex Orji returning the kick. Our kickoff return blockers have seen what Alex can do as a kick returner, but the challenge is on them to get better. Get better at their fundamentals and techniques, and give him a chance. Because if we can make it happen, it would be really special.— Jim Harbaugh
It will also require the decision to move him there on a more full-time basis. That would take him away from his primary position, which might not be the best way to move forward.
[Alex Orji] just started doing it, we’ll see how it goes. He’s also excelling at quarterback, so there will be some decisions that have to be made.— Jim Harbaugh
Michigan opens with East Carolina on Sept. 2. McCarthy will be the starting quarterback.
Will Orji be the not-so-secret starting kick returner?