2016 Michigan Football Position Preview: Wide Receivers

August 22, 2016 by  
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The Wolverines are as deep at the position as they’ve been in recent years, led by Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh.

The battle at quarterback has been the story of Michigan football’s fall camp so far, but the man that wins the job will be relying on the strong group of wide receivers the Wolverines return in 2016.

Michigan had a lot of question marks at the position entering 2015, but answered them thanks to the emergence of Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh as two of the best receivers in the conference, if not college football as a whole.

Both Chesson and Darboh return with some familiar faces behind them on the depth chart as well as some new blood from the strong haul in the 2016 recruiting class.

Behind those two, the depth chart is very much in flux. Grant Perry received some time in the slot last season and will look to build on his freshman year. Drake Harris has battled inconsistencies and injury in his career, but saw the field as well. Moe Ways is coming off of an injury and his role is to be determined, also.

The Wolverines should boast a strong, efficient passing game in 2016. Here the the players who will make up that group in more detail:

Jehu Chesson

#86 | Senior | 6-3, 203 pounds | St. Louis, Missouri

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Michigan Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

2015 statistics: 13 games | 50 catches, 764 yards | 9 TDs

Chesson entered 2015 with 29 career catches, but broke out in a big way with 50 in his junior season in Ann Arbor, most of which came in the second half of the season when the passing game began to click. He had been a key contributor on special teams and as a blocker, but finally but it all together and became a wide receiver that could take the top off of a defense.

His emergence earned him All-Big Ten and preseason All-American honors and some see him as the top wide receiver prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. He is still working his way back from injury, but should be able to build on that and be a playmaking threat throughout the season. That will make the man who wins the quarterback battle very happy.

Amara Darboh

#82 | Senior | 6-2, 215 pounds | Des Moines, Iowa

Michigan v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

2015 statistics: 13 games | 58 catches, 727 yards | 5 TDs

Darboh has been a steady contributor for Michigan at wide receiver. He followed up a 36 catch campaign in 2014 with 58 last season. If Chesson is the gamebreaker at wide receiver, Darboh is the consistent target that will move the chains and make a play or two on his own, as well.

Darboh is as sure-handed as it gets and could actually end up being the team’s leading receiver for the second year in a row. His best football could be ahead of him and his mentorship of the younger players at the position cannot be understated.

Grant Perry

#9 | Sophomore | 6-0, 196 pounds | Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images

2015 statistics: 13 games | 14 catches, 128 yards | 1 TD

Alex Malzone was the quarterback that Michigan built its 2015 recruiting class around, but when you watch the tape of the Birmingham Brother Rice duo, the player that stood out the most was Grant Perry.

Despite all of this, Brady Hoke’s staff never made Perry much of a priority, and he committed to Northwestern. It wasn’t until Harbaugh was putting the finishing touches on the class that he offered Perry and he flipped to Michigan.

Perry was thrown right into the fire in his true freshman season at Michigan and struggled early on, but the staff continued to play him and he capped off the season with five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in the bowl game against Florida. If he picks up where he left off, he is going to be a reliable target in the slot for the Wolverines.

Drake Harris

#14 | Redshirt Sophomore | 6-4, 188 pounds | Grand Rapids, Michigan

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

2015 statistics: 9 games | 6 catches, 39 yards

Drake Harris famously flipped his commitment from Michigan State to Michigan when he decided to focus solely on football. Since then, he has had injury issues and has not been able to see the field consistently. As a redshirt freshman, he saw the field sparingly in 2015.

This is an important year for him. Chesson and Darboh will not be back in 2017, so opportunities will be there to emerge and build some momentum heading into next season.

Moe Ways

#85 | Redshirt Sophomore | 6-3, 217 pounds | Beverly Hills, Michigan

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images

2015 statistics: 11 games | 3 catches, 40 yards

Ways falls into the same category as Harris as a guy who could parlay a nice 2016 into being one of Michigan’s top receivers in 2017. The Detroit Country Day alum broke his foot in the spring and is still working his way back, but has the size and length to grab jump balls and be a decent red zone target.

Ahmir Mitchell

#2 | Freshman | 6-3, 205 pounds | Egg Harbor City, New Jersey

2015 stats (high school): 10 games | 47 catches, 872 yards, 27 rushes, 241 yards | 17 total TDs

Mitchell, a four-star recruit, was an early enrollee and physically looks the part of a college wide receiver. Guys like that usually find themselves on the field early He was an excellent playmaker in high school and could certainly be that at Michigan.

However, he is currently suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons and will have to work his way out of the doghouse. If he is able to do this, Mitchell could end up being a special player in time for the Wolverines.

Kekoa Crawford

#1 | Freshman | 6-2, 195 pounds | Rancho Santa Margarita, California

2015 stats (high school): 10 games | 51 catches, 822 yards | 7 TDs

Crawford is another wideout in the freshman class who physically passes the eyeball test as someone who could play right away. He does not have spring football under his belt like Mitchell does, but could see some early time in 2016.

Crawford’s skill set is similar to Darboh’s and I could see him being that type of receiver for the Wolverines in the future and perhaps sooner.

Eddie McDoom

#13 | Freshman | 6-0, 180 pounds | Winter Garden, Florida

2015 statistics (high school): 29 catches, 653 yards | 9 TDs

Michigan is extremely high on what McDoom brings. He was a three-star recruit, but the staff saw something they loved in his game and recruited him hard to Ann Arbor.

McDoom has excellent hands and tracks the ball well downfield. If they feel he can play early, it would not be a shock to see him in a similar role to what Grant Perry had last season.

Nate Johnson

#10 | Freshman | 5-11, 185 pounds | Thompson’s Station, Tennessee

2015 statistics (high school): 15 games | 87 catches, 1713 yards | 27 TDs

Johnson was a late rising prospect and put up absurd, videogame-like numbers in his senior season in high school. He could see some time in the slot this season, but looks like a candidate for a redshirt.

Johnson can play outside, but will need to bulk up a bit, as most freshman do. He is also similar to Perry in terms of the role he could end up playing his freshman year.

The Others

Chris Evans was featured in the running backs preview, but could see some time in the slot, as well. Brad Hawkins will not enroll at Michigan and instead play at prep school this year. His future with the program is in doubt.

Other players at the position are: Simeon Smith (Fr.), Kenneth Sloss (Sr.), Austin Brenner (Jr.), Jake Martin (Fr.), Nate Schoenle (Fr.), Brenden White (So.), Jack Wangler (Sr.)

More Position Previews:

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Fullbacks

Tight Ends

Offensive Line

Michigan target KJ Hamler will miss senior season with torn ACL

August 22, 2016 by  
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The wide receiver transferred from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (MI) to IMG Academy (FL) for his senior year.

Michigan target KJ Hamler, a 2017 four-star wide receiver, has told Maize n Brew that he will miss the 2016 season with a torn ACL. Hamler made the transfer from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (MI) to IMG Academy (FL) for his senior year.

The ACL was torn during a preseason game between IMG Academy and Carol City. Hamler went down on a play and walked off the field with trainers, but it was much worse than it originally seemed.

Hamler is ranked as the 300th overall prospect, according to 247Sports. He is the No. 42 wide receiver and the 43rd-best player in the state of Florida.

During his sophomore season, Hamler and the Eaglets won the Michigan Division 3 Final over Muskegon. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s repeated the action against Chelsea in Hamler’s junior season. The receiver played a huge role in each game and will be missed at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, especially as the team opens the 2016 season against a tough opponent in Macomb Dakota.

“I’m very excited,” said IMG Academy quarterback Kellen Mond, regarding Hamler before the injury. “He has got a lot of talent on offense, but I definetley trust him to win matchups and be a playmaker.

“KJ Hamler is a straight baller.”

Even though he is out for the season, Hamler still has a college decision to make. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound receiver has offers to play for Michigan State, Iowa State, Oregon, Penn State, Arizona, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Toledo, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He has been recruited to Michigan by Tyrone Wheatley.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball favors Hamler to Oregon.

Monday Michigan Recruiting Roundup: A Silent Commit?

August 22, 2016 by  
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Silent commitments can be very fickle, but Michigan may, possibly, have one.

Checking In On DPJ

There isn’t any major breaking news here, but Rivals had a piece on DPJ and a source therein said Michigan is leading ($).

Our source named Florida and Michigan as the two schools believed to be highest up on Peoples-Jones' list and believes that the Maize and Blue holds a slight edge. That is consistent with what we've believed for a long time and while it's not gospel, it seems to make sense given what Peoples-Jones is looking for in a school and where he's visited and will visit again.

Peoples-Jones' recruitment is still hard to read but someone very, very close to him saying that Michigan is at the top of his list is encouraging. Florida is very far from his mother, who Donovan is very close with, which should give U-M fans a reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Also, DPJ is now up to around 6’3”, 200 according to this. The number of 6’3” receivers who can move like him: few.

Tarik Black Has His Decision Set

Michigan is looking to add 3-4 wide receivers in this cycle, and after such a large haul in 2016, they’re really only aiming for elite, top-level guys rather than trying to replenish depth. There are four guys worth keeping in mind: DPJ, Nico Collins, Tarik Black, and Oliver Martin.

Black is a Connecticut native who has elite height (6’4”, 208), great body control and good speed. He would represent a continuation of a recent surge in Michigan’s Connecticut recruiting, with Andrew Stueber (Darien) and Ben Mason (Sandy Hook) already in the fold. And, as Garrett Fishaw details, Black has said a few times before that he’s interested in silently committing before his upcoming season (which starts September 7th) and then announcing at the Army All-American Game.

This weekend, Tarik tweeted, and then quickly deleted, this:

Michigan and Notre Dame have been the main schools tied to Black so far. His only planned official visit is to Ann Arbor. Now, information here is thin, but it’s theoretically possible that Michigan has a silent commit right now from one of their top targets.

Tedarrell Slaton Update

There continue to be good vibes surrounding the recruitment of T.J. Slaton, though Steve Lorenz reported that Western Michigan was hanging around in his recruitment for a while because it was serious about letting him play basketball. But, apparently that’s a no-go ($).

With Slaton, it's hard at this point to get an idea of who is really contending against Michigan. Miami (FL) is not believed to be a factor at all. Florida and Florida State aren't really in it either. Is it one of Ole Miss or Tennessee? Nobody on their end really thinks they have a shot with him from what we've been told as well.

The only hiccup for me putting in a 247Sports Crystal Ball here remains the fact that Slaton appears to be adamant that he will make his decision on National Signing Day. I think Michigan will wait for him until the end, but with the numerous elite targets the staff is in on at offensive line, I want to see some things clear up before I move forward with it. If he was choosing today, I have zero doubt the Wolverines would be the choice.

This also feels like a good time to include his highlights; again, Slaton’s Hudl page is mostly full of basketball but there is this against IMG. It shows a very nimble 340-pounder who can pull with terrifying effectiveness. (See the right tackle at 1:05.)

I’d expect Harbaugh to appeal to Slaton’s competitive inner spirit, as well as the prospect of one day becoming one of the best in the world at a position he may not have fallen in love with yet. Slaton is still just a prospect with potential, but you don’t find many players as big and nimble as him. There should be a spot open for him at the end of this cycle, especially since Michigan is safely in the best position for him.

Fall Football & Georgia

First, here is an article on Leesburg football players Aubrey Solomon and Otis Reese, who played their first game of the year this past Thursday. The team did okay:

“Following Solomon's Thursday night performance, he has moved up in the 247Sports rankings to No. 110 nationally and he is now the nation's No. 7 defensive tackle. Solomon also was invited and accepted an invitation to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.”

I usually spurn updates of changed rankings in these roundups, as I’d much rather rely on scouting and film. But, to that end, the upcoming few months will be very interesting and relevant - Michigan commits and targets will be taking to the field and showing off how much they’ve been working and improving when no one was watching them.

As Hudl updates become available, I’ll make sure to keep you guys posted on my thoughts of high school players’ performances. Some guys will be making drastic improvements; those who do not might be losing a spot in the class.

Oh, one other, and decidedly more relevant, thing to note on Aubrey Solomon. Georgia is not going away any time soon, nor would I expect them to. He’ll be around Georgia’s campus quite a bit this fall, so getting him up to Ann Arbor a few times will be important for keeping the Wolverines firmly in his mind. This will be a tight race.

But, on the flip side, I’d like to see a little more confidence from Michigan fans as we fight for top players from the South. Distance can be a factor, and the convenience of a Lee County player heading over to Athens is annoying. But Michigan will always need to fight to hold onto top talent. That’s just the nature of the beast.

Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News ranks Michigan No. 1 in his AP Top 25 poll

August 21, 2016 by  
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Michigan has been ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll.

Michigan has landed at No. 7 in the AP Top 25 poll, which was released on Sunday. It marks the highest ranking for the Wolverines since 2007.

Remember 2007? Michigan got upset by Appalachian State (FCS) to start the season, then the team was dismantled by Oregon in the second game. The Michigan schedule for that season was ranked as the 15th hardest in the nation.

This time around, Michigan should find themselves with a 3-0 record heading into Big Ten Conference play.

Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News gave Michigan a first-place vote in his AP Top 25 poll.

“I don't have any profound (reasons why), but the main reason I think I did it was Jim Harbaugh. He's a great coach and I know how he transformed Stanford and we saw how he transformed Michigan last year,” Wolf explained. “And I think they'll be even better in year two than year one with him.”

After starting the season 0-3, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who was coaching Stanford at the time, upset USC. The No. 2 ranked Trojans were favored by 41 points, but lost 24-23. Wolf was on hand covering USC football.

“I saw what he did at Stanford. He made a huge impact,” Wolf mentioned. “I think he's more of a college coach than a pro coach, his personality, I think, works better on the college players than it does pro players. I think he'll be great (at Michigan).

“And you hear stuff from ex-players at Stanford or coaches in the (NFL) will talk, and I know he's kind of crazy -- but he's also a really good coach.”

Since 2000, Michigan has made the AP Top 10 seven times, but never since the 2012 season. The Wolverines went 8-5 with Brady Hoke as the head coach that year.

Michigan Football Ranked No. 7 in First AP Poll of 2016

August 21, 2016 by  
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The Wolverines also received a first place vote in the poll.

The first AP poll of the 2016 college football season was released on Sunday with the Michigan Wolverines coming in ranked seventh and receiving a first-place vote.

The Wolverines were ranked eighth earlier this offseason in the first coaches poll of the season.

Ohio State is the only team ranked higher in the Big Ten at No. 6. Michigan State and Iowa come in at No. 12 and No. 17, respectively.

Here is the full poll:

  1. Alabama (33 first place votes)
  2. Clemson (16)
  3. Oklahoma (4)
  4. Florida State (5)
  5. LSU (1)
  6. Ohio State (1)
  7. Michigan (1)
  8. Stanford
  9. Tennessee
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Michigan State
  13. TCU
  14. Washington
  15. Houston
  16. UCLA
  17. Iowa
  18. Georgia
  19. Louisville
  20. USC
  21. Oklahoma State
  22. North Carolina
  23. Baylor
  24. Oregon
  25. Florida

Other programs that received votes were Miami (FL), Texas A&M, Utah, Washington State, Boise State, San Diego State, Wisconsin, Auburn, Pittsburgh, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Navy, Northwestern, Western Kentucky, South Florida and Toledo.

Michigan DL Ryan Glasgow Not Taking Senior Year for Granted

August 19, 2016 by  
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The senior spoke to the media after practice Friday and praised his new DC and freshman Michael Onwenu.

Football is a sport where things can change very quickly and careers can be altered with the snap of a finger.

Michigan senior defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow gained this perspective last season when he tore a pectoral muscle in the game against Rutgers, which caused him to miss the rest of the season and his absence was noticeable.

Now healthy and rehabilitated, Glasgow is not going to take his last season at Michigan for granted.

“It makes you think, this game does end,” Glasgow said after practice on Friday. “Having it taken away so abruptly … if I were a true senior, that could have been my last game, against Rutgers. It makes you take every day and cherish it, and not take the days for granted.

“The thing that bothered me was I felt like I was hanging my teammates out to dry. We played a lot of up-tempo teams. We need depth against those teams. You can’t expect four or five guys to go out there and play every snap against a team that’s snapping the ball every 15 seconds.

“I felt like I could have done more. That hurt pretty bad.”

Glasgow is healthy and says he is ready for the season opener on Sep. 3 against Hawaii. Like many of his teammates, he is ready for one last ride to leave a lasting legacy with the program.

“It’s great,” he said. “I really miss playing football. Mostly, I just miss the camaraderie. When you’re hurt, you’re not playing. You have to sit out. You don’t get to play with your friends.

“These guys are your best friends, your teammates, guys you work with all year to achieve your goals. Not being a part of that really hurts.”

Glasgow also is enjoying being coached by first-year defensive coordinator Don Brown, who has brought a ton of energy to practices in fall camp.

“He’s awesome,” Glasgow said. “It’s a little different being coached by him. He’s not as big a screamer as our last defensive coordinator (Maryland head coach DJ Durkin), but he gets the point across.

“He’s a great guy, and his defense is awesome. We’re excited to play in it this year.”

One of the storylines that many have been keeping an eye on during training camp is how the freshman class is progressing and practicing. Michael Onwenu, a former four-star prospect, is one of those players that is turning heads, and Glasgow praised what he has seen from him so far.

“He’s a mountain of a man,” he said. “He’s a big guy. When he was giving us looks as an offensive guard, you’re like, this kid is huge. And he picks up on everything really quickly.

“If you can play offensive and defensive line both, as a true freshman? And you’re rolling through both, whichever side of the ball they want you on, depending on the day? That’s pretty impressive.”

Ex-Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr Leaves CFP Committee

August 19, 2016 by  
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Carr cites health reasons for pulling out of the committee.

Update: Carr is considering surgery that would require an extended recovery time, per Angelique Chengelis of The Detroit News.

Former Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr is removing himself from the College Football Playoff selection committee for health reasons. Executive director Bill Hancock made the announcement on Friday.

He will not be replaced this season and the committee will feature only 12 members. This was set to be the first season of three that Carr would be a member of the selection team.

"This is a difficult decision because I have enjoyed my preparations and I have the greatest respect for the other committee members and the playoff itself," Carr said in a statement.

Details of the health issues he is dealing with are not public at this time. Carr went 122-40 in his 13 years with the Wolverines, headlined by winning the National Championship in 1997.

Carr was set to be one of four members that would debut on the committee this season, along with former Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens and former Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi.

2016 Michigan Football Position Preview: Offensive Line

August 19, 2016 by  
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Michigan's run game hinges on their experienced offensive line. Can the group deliver?

Michigan has a tradition unlike many schools when it comes to the offensive line, boasting numerous All-Americans, and even a former U.S. President played center in Ann Arbor.

In 2015, the unit, much like the entire offensive, looked to get back to its roots and simplify the run-blocking schemes. In the first game against Utah, guys struggled to get where they needed to go and looked lost. Consequently, Michigan was only able to pick up 76 yards on 29 carries, which comes out to measly 2.6 yards per attempt.

Throughout the rest of the year, the offensive line play got better and better, and while it wasn't elite, it was definitely serviceable. Against Florida in the Citrus Bowl, everything seemed to gel. Running backs had huge holes to run through, and it allowed Michigan to rack up 225 yards on one of the best defenses in the country. They will look to build on that through fall camp and into the regular season.

Returning four starters, Fox Sports ranked Michigan as having the 4th (!) best returning unit in the country. Let's take a look at who is back and what to expect from the presumptive first unit.

LT, Grant Newsome

#77 | Sophomore | 6-7, 318 pounds | McLean, Virginia

With Mason Cole sliding inside to center to replace Graham Glasgow, Newsome looks to be the starter at left tackle, with everything we have seen so far indicating that another #77 will be protecting the edge.

Newsome was good enough to crack the two-deep as a true freshman, coming in for jumbo sets and unbalanced formations this past year. While he seemed to struggle a bit in the spring game, most are hoping thats an indication of how good Taco Charlton is rather than Newsome's shortcomings.

However, Newsome is a big, strong, athletic player who should be able to adapt to the speed of things quickly. By all accounts, he is a very smart guy, so he looks to be able to learn on the fly. Add in that the first three games of Michigan's schedule are not very daunting, and he will have adequate time to get his feet wet as a left tackle at Michigan.

LG, Ben Braden

#71 | Senior | 6-6, 335 pounds | Rockford, Michigan

Braden went from being the most scrutinized starter early last season, to being one of the more stable starters on the offensive line. His improvement from the Utah game to the Florida game was easily one of the most impressive transformations on the team. Not at the level of the Jake Rudock transformation, but very impressive nonetheless.

Braden should continue his solid play and continue improving on a game to game basis. If he improves like he did last year, he could be a very, very good player by November.

C, Mason Cole

#52 | Junior | 6-5, 305 pounds | Tarpon Springs, Florida

The best returning offensive lineman on Michigan's roster, Cole moves to center from left tackle after the departure of Graham Glasgow. Cole looks like a prototypical center, and has the smarts and experience to make it as smooth of a transition as possible.

His run blocking last year was impressive, and his pass-blocking should be better as well, as he will not be isolated in one-on-one situations nearly as much as he was as a left tackle.

Cole is on the Rimington watch list, even though he has not played a game at center in his two years at Michigan. While watch lists can sometime include everyone and their mother, that shows the amount of respect Cole has. Michigan should be fine at center this season.

RG, Kyle Kalis

#67 | Senior | 6-5, 305 pounds | Lakewood, Ohio

Kalis has not lived up to his five-star billing during his Michigan career. He has shown flashes, but for the most part it has been inconsistencies that have plagued him during the past three years.

Once heralded by many as one of the most college-ready offensive line prospect in years, Kalis has struggled to be a solid starter at Michigan, and if it were up to most Michigan fans, they'd have someone else in the right guard spot.

However, with another year of being coached up by Tim Drevno, Kalis should be able tap into some of that potential that made him a 5-star back in 2012. Though, he seemed to be the weakest link during the Citrus Bowl, so it looks to be a toss-up.

RT, Erik Magnuson

#78 | Senior | 6-6, 205 pounds | Carlsbad, California

Magnuson was one of the more steady options on the offensive line last year. Not great, but pretty good would be an adequate way to describe Magnuson's play last season.

Magnuson is reminiscent of former Michigan right tackle Michael Schofield. That's not to say Magnuson will go onto start for a Super Bowl champion, but he is a solid player that will provide stability on the right side of the offensive line.

The starters seem to be set with those five guys, though David Dawson has been getting run with the ones, and it would be only a mild surprise to see him take over the right-guard spot. The Cass Tech product is in his fourth year with the program, so one would think this would be the year to take the next step. Juwann Bushell-Beaty is another guy who could compete at the left tackle spot, though we haven't seen too much from him. Newsome was the first guy up after the starting five last year. That seems to be pretty telling.

Patrick Kugler is another guy that Michigan fans have been waiting on to breakthrough to the starting unit, but hasn't been able to put it together. While the coaches have said he's been solid, Cole has been better through the spring and summer. He would be a viable option in case of injury and could start next year.

Nolan Ulizo is a second year player that, while not being a major factor this year, could be in the team's future plans in 2017 and beyond. One player Michigan seems to be very high on is Jon Runyan Jr., who should be in discussion for a starting job in 2017.

Early returns on freshmen Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu have been very good, as it seems both guys could step in immediately if Michigan was in a dire situation. Luckily they are not, but having the option is a good thing. Both will have opportunities to shine in years to come.

Jake Rudock completes 8-of-11 passes in second preseason game with Detroit Lions

August 19, 2016 by  
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While he threw an interception, former Michigan QB Jake Rudock completed 8-of-11 passes for 90 yards in his second preseason game in Detroit.

Former Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock played his second preseason game with the Detroit Lions on Thursday. He completed 8-of-11 passes for 90 yards, but threw an interception in the fourth quarter.

The Lions fell to the Cincinnati Bengals, 30-14. Neither Matthew Stafford, Dan Orlovsky or Rudock threw a touchdown, with Orlovsky and Rudock both tossing interceptions.

Detroit’s kicker Matt Prater hit two field goals. Then, running back Dwayne Washington added a late five-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and converted a two-point conversion.

Orlovsky, Rudock’s competition for the backup job, went 8-for-14 through the air for 84 yards. He also threw a pick-six to Bengals defensive back Derron Smith.

"I don't think anybody played particularly well, to be honest with you," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said when asked about Orlovsky's performance after the game. "Obviously, he had a miscue there that we certainly would like to have back. Everybody's got to get better."

Last week, Rudock completed 8-of-11 passes for 72 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion to lead the Lions to a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The former Michigan quarterback has accumulated 162 yards across his two game preseason career.

2016 Michigan Football Position Preview: Tight Ends

August 19, 2016 by  
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How are things looking for Michigan at the tight end position?

When Jim Harbaugh became the Michigan head football coach, one thing was as given as any.. the tight end position would be a focal point once again for Michigan football. During the Rich Rodriguez era the scheme of what Michigan football was bread on became lost, under Brady Hoke the tight ends just never really developed to be all around solid players. Those days are gone, and the days of the Schembechler mold of tight end are back.

Harbaugh’s scheme counts on two tight ends to be on the field for a high percentage of snaps, and their blocking prowess is equally important as to how good of pass catchers they are. The evidence was in the year Jake Butt had. Butt was a Big Ten First Team selection, after a year in which he was dangerous catching the football while also proving to be a ferocious blocker when called upon.

The 2016 group of tight ends is a bit different than ‘15, and we have the breakdown for you:

Jake Butt

#88 | Senior | 6-6, 250 pounds | Pickerington, Ohio

 Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

2015 stats- 51 Receptions | 654 Yards | 3 Touchdowns

Butt had a strong 2015 and was a perfect fit for Harbaugh’s scheme. Jake proved to be a reliable pass catcher at any point on the field, providing Jake Rudock with a third down converting, red zone target machine.

Not only does Butt possess above average speed, hands, and route running for the position, he’s also very strong. A tough and gritty tight end is needed in a smash-mouth footbal style offense, and Butt has shown he’s willing to be a physical blocker in the run and pass game when called upon to do so.

Butt is on the John Mackey Award watch list, which goes to the best tight end in the country. Also, this week he was named to the CBS Preseason All American First Team. The expectations are higher for Butt in 2016. Will his production meet what’s come to be expected? If he has a good year, Butt will be selected in round one of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Ian Bunting

#89 | Junior | 6-7, 252 pounds | Hinsdale, Illinois

BYU v Michigan Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

2015 stats- 5 Receptions | 72 Yards

Bunting’s 2015 production could leave some feeling skeptical as to how much he can produce in a 2 TE heavy scheme. For those with concerns, Jake Butt’s praise of Bunting could change worries into optimism quite fast. “He’s going to be a very great player. He’s going to help our team a lot cause he is a tight end that can do both jobs. He can run, catch, block and he has the size... Maybe 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7, 250 or 250-plus, and he works hard and he’s a smart football player. He has everything you need to do to be successful.” Butt said.

Tight Ends coach Jay Harbaugh mentioned earlier this month that Bunting will be the No. 2 tight end, but other players will receive playing time behind Butt as well.

Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

#8 | Redshirt Freshman | 6-6, 276 pounds | Buffalo, New York

 Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Wheatley Jr. is the son of former Michigan running back Tyrone Wheatley, who’s also Michigan’s running backs coach. Wheatley Jr. will be trying to make a name for himself in his own right. A highly touted four star prospect, Tyrone was the No. 13 tight end nationally and first in New York coming out of high school. He should see his fair share of snaps on the field behind Bunting, and maybe more if he makes the most of them. In spring practice Wheatley’s athleticism was the talk of Michigan’s practice at Ford Field. Wheatley caught a one handed pass thirty yards down the field and took it all the way to the end- zone for a 75 yard scamper, out running various linebackers and defenders in the secondary.

Last week Jay Harbaugh said Wheatley has improved since last year. “He’s grown tremendously, the way he takes care of his body, his training, the way he approaches the mental aspect of the game, that’s exciting. The nature of the position asks a lot of my players mentally and sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to grasp right away. He’s light years ahead of where he was.”

Zach Gentry

#83 | Redshirt Freshman | 6-7, 244 pounds | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Michigan State v Michigan Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The picture above is when Zach Gentry (#10) was a quarterback in 2015. With too many options ahead of Gentry on the depth chart, he moves to tight end.

"He's a very, very big target," Jay Harbaugh said. "That's very helpful in developing a comfort-level with a quarterback as a receiver. And he can run. He has good feet. He's smart. He has good hands. All those things. We saw glimpses of things that were exciting and made it obvious that he'd have potential at tight end."

As a four star recruit at quarterback, Gentry could have transferred to another school, but he believes in what the staff has chosen to be his true position.

The Rest

Freshman options Devin Asiasi and Nick Eubanks are also hoping to contribute in 2016. Asiasi was a four star recruit out of Concord, California, who was the third ranked tight end in the 2016 class. Eubanks was ranked the 9th best TE in the 2016 class and was a four star recruit as well.

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