Name: Peyton O’Leary
Weight: 195 lbs.
High school: Byfield (MA) Governor’s Academy
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #81
Last year: I ranked O’Leary #110 and said he would be a backup wide receiver (LINK). He played in six games and caught 1 pass for 4 yards.
TTB Rating: N/A
I'm going to take a minor victory lap on the emergence of Peyton O'Leary since I've been talking him up for the past couple years. Here's the final sentence from last year's countdown post for O'Leary:
"Right now Michigan’s wide receiver room is stacked, but if some injuries or blowouts happen, I could see him making a little bit of a name for himself and carving out a role."
Well, O'Leary didn't actually make a name for himself until the spring game, where he made 6 catches for 126 yards and 1 touchdown and caught a 2-point conversion. His 2022 season was pretty quiet with just 1 catch for 4 yards, but coming out of the spring, players were talking about O'Leary doing similar things in practice, and Jim Harbaugh said that he would have a role in the fall.
It's quite a gigantic leap for O'Leary to jump from #110 last year to #49 this season, and maybe it's too high. I do have some concerns about Michigan's wide receiver depth, though. O'Leary is unlikely to start, and with the talent at running back and tight end, I'm not sure how much production could be expected from a fourth or fifth receiver. Last year's fifth most productive receiver (by number of receptions) was Andrel Anthony with 7 catches for 80 yards and 1 touchdown; Anthony was so happy with his involvement that he transferred to Oklahoma. If O'Leary accumulates his spring game numbers over the entire 2023 season, that will be fairly impressive in itself. Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson should be the top guys, and we'll see how many balls are available for any other pass-catchers.
Prediction: Backup wide receiver