Hemingway leaves big hole

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- He never put up massive numbers, and he played hurt and sick for most of his career in offenses in which he wasn't an ideal fit.

But Michigan is going to miss Junior Hemingway a lot next season -- something the Wolverines are realizing now as they try to replace last season's top wide receiver as spring practice hits the one week mark.

"That's not going to be easy to do," offensive coordinator Al Borges said.

The immediate solution for Michigan is to move Roy Roundtree to flanker, the position Hemingway played last season. Roundtree had a poor season statistically in 2011, catching only 19 passes for 355 yards, but he was also thrown to far fewer times than in the past under former coach Rich Rodriguez.

With this move, both playing time and targeted passes for the fifth-year senior will rise, as he'll likely be the No. 1 option for quarterback Denard Robinson this fall. The departure of Hemingway also means Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon, who split time last season, no longer will have to split time.

And if both are on the field at the same time -- Gallon is the favorite to hold onto the role he shared with Roundtree a season ago -- both should see their production rise. Borges also said both Roundtree and Gallon could be the deep threat Hemingway was a season ago.

It is after this point where replacing Hemingway and finding reliable receivers becomes more of a question.

The coaching staff likes the hands of junior Drew Dileo, who could play in the slot. But there are two wild cards which could shake everything up.

As Michigan is experimenting this spring, it is likely quarterback Devin Gardner gets a look at wide receiver, and if coaches like what they see, he could see some snaps there this fall. At 6-foot-5 with good athleticism and top-end speed, that could give Michigan a dimension none of its receiver-only players could provide.

The other person to watch is redshirt sophomore Jerald Robinson. He didn't play last season, but both the coaching staff and former players see him as a guy who can be an impact receiver for Michigan.

Multiple former players told WolverineNation he was the player they expected to have a breakout season in 2012.

"Very big, physical receiver," Borges said. "Not quite as big as Junior but still big. Has excellent hands. He ran on the scout team a little bit, but not because he wasn't good enough to play.

"He was good enough to play. We were just pretty good at wide receiver and didn't get a chance to use him. This year, Jerald is going to get a great look."

Borges went one step beyond this as well. In searching for a replacement for Hemingway -- he said Jerald Robinson "is at least part of the answer."