During a practice session in which there was no tackling and the quarterbacks weren't being hit, it was somewhat predictable that a few receivers would be near the top of the list of offensive standouts. Steve Breaston and Doug Dutch looked extremely good during Saturday's session. It's clear that Breaston is 100%…the first time he has been such a claim during the spring for his entire Michigan career. He had little trouble getting deep, beating Leon Hall a few times in one one-on-one drills. Furthermore, the burst that returned to him late in the season was on full display. "Breaston is a big play guy anytime he touches the football," said Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr. "I think he is certainly in position from experience and physically he is much improved from the day he walked in here. He is a smart guy. I think you saw late in the season some of the things he is capable of. So often people think it has to be done statistically. I think he has certainly got the potential to be a game breaking football player. I think he is going to make us a much better football player from the standpoint that if you want to single cover him, he is going to hurt you. If you double cover him then it really opens up the running game for us. So I think from that standpoint, he is going to impact every game. He can catch the ball in front of you and still make a big play. That's where I think he is special."
Showing similar explosion was redshirt freshman Doug Dutch. He continued to exhibit the type of fluidness that he displayed in the opening spring practice. He caught the ball effortlessly and clearly has a burst that eats up cushions quickly. "I think Doug Dutch lost a few pounds and he really showed speed and explosiveness," Carr said. "He can run. I think h is only going to get better. He has a real upside."
One of the bigger pass-catching surprises was Mike Massey. He showed flashes of brilliance prior to the start of his Michigan career at the Big 33 All Star classic. During Saturday's practice he did some of the same things and really looked to be a weapon in the passing game. At the same time, a year of strength and conditions has aided him as a blocker. He made one of the better moves of the day when while facing Willis Barringer in a one on one drill. He faked the veteran safety out so badly that he gained a seven yard advantage on a seem pattern that drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
Moving behind the line of scrimmage, one year has made quite a difference at the running back spot. Last season it was a position with little depth, but this year it's a position deeper in talent than has been in quite some time. Kevin Grady has dropped about eight pounds since the Rose Bowl, but still sports the massive thighs that made him such a punishing runner at the high school level. Mike Hart looked poised to pick up right where he left off, displaying the quickness and elusiveness that made him Big Ten Freshman of the year. And finally, Max Martin looked both more aggressive and comfortable toting the ball than he did last season and appears to be the fastest of all of the backs.
"Kevin Grady the last two days has really been hobbled," Carr said. "He has got a very tender elbow. He did not run today like he has run, but he has had an excellent spring. I think he'll play a very important role on our team. Max Martin, the last two or three weeks has really come on. Last fall he had some trouble taking care and securing the football. I think he has really done some great things there. He has not fumbled the football the last three weeks, which is always relatively important (laughing). You don't play if you fumble the ball. Max has had an excellent spring. I think our situation in the backfield has the potential to be as good as we've had in some time. They're all tough. They're all guys that can make the cuts. They're all guys that run with passion. I think Michael Hart improved significantly as a pass receiver this spring. So they've all gotten better."