Michigan football's Grant Perry playing valuable role after offseason trouble

Perry leads Michigan with 8 catches through 2 games

Grant Perry dives into the end zone for a touchdown against Cincinnati (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images).
Grant Perry dives into the end zone for a touchdown against Cincinnati (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images).

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The 2017 season has been a clean slate for the entire Michigan football team as it erases a rough end to last year and replaces more starters than any other team in the country. But for wide receiver Grant Perry, it seems as if it's a different kind of fresh start.

Perry made headlines during the offseason while going through a sexual assault case stemming from an October incident in East Lansing. Perry was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct after he allegedly assaulted a woman while standing in line at a bar. He was also charged with trying to run away from police officers.

With so many talented receivers coming into Ann Arbor, it could have been the end of the line for Perry at Michigan, but Jim Harbaugh allowed him to return to the team in June. In a way, it was a confusing decision, especially since Perry only caught 27 passes the last two seasons.

But so far, it has worked on the field for both Perry and the Michigan offense.

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Sophomores Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom, and true freshmen Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones were expected to shoulder the load in the passing game this season. They were all highly ranked recruits, and with all the starting receivers graduating, it was a perfect fit.

Perry figured to play a role in the slot, but the Brother Rice graduate wasn't one of the big names thrown around this offseason. He's done much more than that, leading the team in catches through two games and coming up huge when Wilton Speight needs him most.

Speight has struggled without his three favorite targets from last season, but he's developing a nice chemistry with the sure-handed Perry.

In the opener against Florida, Perry wasn't much of a factor until the Wolverines got the ball to start the second half, trailing the Gators by four points. Speight connected with Perry for three catches in a span of five plays, moving from Michigan's 35-yard line to the Florida 10-yard line.

The ensuing touchdown would give Michigan the lead for good.

Perry helped Michigan out of another sticky situation against Cincinnati. As a 34.5-point favorite, the Wolverines led by just three points when they got the ball back late in the third quarter. The offense was sputtering until Speight hit Perry over the middle for a 33-yard touchdown. Perry caught the pass in stride, turned upfield and outran three Cincinnati defenders before diving into the end zone.

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Michigan won the game by 22 points, but before Perry's touchdown, fans were very uncomfortable inside the Big House.

Perry's season statistics aren't outstanding -- he's caught eight passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in two games -- but he's been Michigan's most productive receiver. On the field, he's repaying the coaches for giving him another chance.