Injuries during fall practices can derail championship hopes before they even form in the minds of the nation's top teams. Even though the University of Michigan's top returning wide receiver, fifth-year senior Roy Roundtree, had to have arthroscopic knee surgery last Friday, the Wolverines coaching staff does not expect this minor setback to hurt their team much at all.
Roundtree was Michigan's leading receiver in 2010 as a sophomore with 935 yards on 72 receptions, but saw his numbers dip significantly in 2011 (355 on 19), as he had to adjust to an entirely different role in Al Borges' first season as Michigan's offensive coordinator.
"He had a little cartilage cleaned up," head coach Brady Hoke told members of the media on Sunday (h/t Rivals). "We expect him back in two weeks. Everything went great, and he feels great. It wasn't even in practice - he felt it walking back to the huddle. As a senior he'll do a great job of bouncing back.
"Roy is a committed guy, so he's going to do everything in his power to be back."
Michigan's wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski took things one step further than Hoke and said that the Wolverines receiving corps will not be slowed much even if Roundtree were to miss any games early in the season.
"I don't think it affects us very much at all," Hecklinski said on Sunday, according to Jeff Borton of Rivals. "Obviously, losing someone of his experience and his talent...but we're at Michigan. It's the next person. The expectation is for that spot. Whoever takes that position and whoever plays against Alabama is expected to go make plays to help win the game."
Even though Roundtree is not able to practice due to his injury, the Ohio native is still actively leading and teaching the younger receivers during practice as well as in the film room.
"Roy's great," Hecklinski said. "He's out there helping. He's in meetings, helping. Like I said, the expectations are for the position. When you're in Roy's position, you're expected to help."
It sounds as if Roundtree will be back for Michigan's opener against Alabama on September 1. But if he is unable to go, it will only ramp up the pressure on a fairly unproven and inexperienced receiving corps.
It may also force newcomer Amara Darboh and junior quarterback Devin Gardner, who has seen time at wide receiver over the past week and for much of the spring, onto the field and into the game plan much earlier than the Michigan coaches expected.
Stay tuned for more updates on Roundtree's status as the college football regular season approaches.
Zach Dirlam is the former lead editor of the college basketball section as well as Big Ten columnist for the FOX Sports/MSN/YardBarker affiliate website Sports at Work. Check out his blog, Dirlam's Dirty Dugout Sports Blog, which features this story, along with other articles and video reports on major sports.
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