Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 73 of 163

72 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW WIDE RECEIVERS Others face challenges with availability. Junior Da'Mario Jones missed half of spring practices due to injury, while redshirt freshman Drake Harris' ongoing hamstring problems left him out of all but an early practice or two. Heading into June, nothing had been announced on potential senior Dennis Norfleet. But those close to him (and Norfleet himself, via Twitter) were indicating there are issues that have him, at the very least, suspended. For the group as a whole, it's all about turning the good moments into great stretches of play, Fisch stressed. "I've seen some flashes of some really good football," he said. "We just have to now do that more often — make big plays more often, get open more often. If we do that, we've got a chance to do something. "The key is to do things well not just some of the time, but all of the time." ❑ PRESEASON ANALYSIS: WIDE RECEIVERS Starter ✪ ✪ ✪ Michigan features players who have been on the field extensively in redshirt juniors Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. What it doesn't have is someone who has consistently produced and come up with big-time plays in key situations. That's what the Wolverines need this season, and it's what head coach Jim Harbaugh was calling for following the spring game. Depth ✪ ✪ ✪ The depth here is solid, if not spectacular. Beyond Michigan's top two are some tal- ented players who haven't seen a great deal of action. Sophomore Freddy Canteen came on to play well late in the season, but the Wolverines have to get some new blood on the field early to expand the targets. X-Factor Availability could be the biggest X-factor here. Senior Dennis Norfleet's status on the team was in doubt entering June, with published reports noting that he was either dis- missed or suspended during the summer. Also, redshirt freshman Drake Harris' ongoing hamstring issues have put a question mark on his ability to contribute. Overall ✪ ✪ This is the one position group really singled out for scrutiny by Harbaugh after a sub- par spring performance. This group has an opportunity to grow up and produce well this season, but has to show it can stretch the field and keep defenses honest, or U-M's run game could be in trouble. Note: Star rankings are made on a scale of 1-5 stars. QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Jedd Fisch (first season). Returning Starters: Amara Darboh (7 career starts), Jehu Chesson (7), Dennis Norfleet (4), Freddy Canteen (2). Departing Starter: Devin Funchess (25). Projected New Starter: None. Top Reserve: Jaron Dukes. Wait Until 2016: Drake Harris. Newcomer: Brian Cole. Moved In: None. Moved Out: None. Rookie Impact: Cole. Most Improved Player: Maurice Ways. Best Pro Prospect: Darboh. FYI: The Wolverines have featured only one 1,000-yard receiver in the past seven years, with Jeremy Gallon putting up 1,373 receiving yards in 2013 … Prior to that, the Wolver- ines featured 1,000-yard receivers in nine of 10 seasons … Michigan's leading receiver in 2014, Devin Funchess, was taken in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, going on the 41st pick overall … Funchess paced U-M with 733 receiving yards last year, while Darboh was next up with 473 … Michigan returns six wide receivers who caught at least one pass last season … The Wolverines completed 205 passes last year, ranking 11th in the Big Ten in that category … Walk-on wideout Bo Dever's sister Morgan participates on the U-M field hockey team … Rookie Brian Cole was born in the same year as Michigan's last national championship, 1997 … Darboh is the only player on the Michigan roster hailing from the state of Iowa. Redshirt junior wide receiver Jehu Chesson, who totaled 14 grabs for 154 yards in 2014, is a candidate for a potential breakout season this fall. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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