Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 79 "To be honest, and not to sound cocky, but I think I know this offense like the back of my hand," he said. "I stuck my nose in the playbook and can tell you what almost every single guy does on almost every single play. That does make a huge difference, because then you understand the concept of the play rather than just your assignment. You under- stand why we're running a play. It helps you run routes better, block better, and it helps you understand why you have to step with inside foot or outside foot. "It pays off when you understand your offense that well." A Singular Goal And it also helps when you have a pas- sion for your school that matches your work ethic. Butt may not have been a Wolverine at birth, but he's a Wolverine now, and to his core. Those are the guys that help win rivalry games, and though Michigan fell short in his first taste of the Ohio State grudge match in 2013, Butt stepped up. His five receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown led U-M's receivers, and the Wolverines nearly pulled the upset before falling 42-41. Close isn't good enough, Butt said. Not at Michigan. "It's always in the back of your mind," he said. "We know we have to beat Ohio State here at Michigan. We're supposed to beat them every single year. "For me, Ohio State didn't recruit me. I take that personally. I go into every single lift, every single workout just remembering." Last year's 5-7 season also adds fuel, he said. So did the Buckeyes' 2014 national championship, one that raised the bar for the rest of the Big Ten. "Seeing the Buckeyes celebrate that win last year, that picture of them … it makes me so hungry when I see teams have success," Butt said. "It just makes you that much more hungry to go out and get it yourself. "I really, really want to win something here. That's why I came here, to win something big. I want fat rings on my fingers so we can all come back together one day and talk about the work we put in, how much it was worth it when we got to stand up on the stage." If he does, he knows his grandfather will be with him. He writes "Rest in Peace Bob 'Papa' Lally" on his wrists before every game and feels his presence, even more so after sharing one last moment with him on the field at Notre Dame. "I know that made my mom really proud, and really my whole family," he said. "I've always kept him with me, but to be able to do that was really special." One of many moments in Ann Arbor — some still to come, he insists — that he'll never forget. ❑ Michigan's Top NFL Tight Ends Until recently Michigan was "Tight End U," sending them to the NFL with regularity. That's changed in the last decade or so, but U-M junior Jake Butt has aspirations of being the Wolverines' next great. Many believed Bennie Joppru would be that guy after he went to the Houston Texans in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, but injuries derailed his career before it ever got started. Here's a look at the top five professional tight ends in Michigan history along with their accomplishments. 1. Ron Kramer: The two-time consensus All-American (1955-56) became the fourth pick in the 1957 NFL Draft and played for the Green Bay Packers for seven seasons, 1957 and 1959-65. He was a key contributor on legendary coach Vince Lombardi's first NFL championship teams in 1961 and 1962 and was selected as a first-team All-NFL player in 1962 after catching 37 passes for 555 yards and seven touchdowns. He earned second team All-Pro honors in 1963 and was named to the NFL's 50th anniversary all-time team. He retired in 1967 after spending three years with the Detroit Lions. 2. Tony McGee: McGee's huge Rose Bowl performance in a 1993 win over Washington (six catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns) prompted the Cincinnati Bengals to take him in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft. They wouldn't be disappointed. McGee was the Bengals' starting tight end in 15 games his rookie year and caught 44 passes for 525 yards. He appeared in 136 games for the club, 134 as a starter, and caught 299 passes for 3,795 yards and 20 touchdowns in nine seasons, after which he ranked seventh on the club's all-time career receptions list. He finished his career with Dallas and the New York Giants, and with 322 catches for 4,089 yards and 21 touchdowns. 3. Derrick Walker: A first-team All-Big Ten selection in 1989, Walker went to San Diego when the Chargers took him in the sixth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He was San Diego's starting tight end from 1990-93, appearing in 60 games (55 as a starter) and catching 98 passes for 979 yards and four touchdowns. He signed with Kansas City and played with the Chiefs from 1994-97, catching 75 passes for 720 yards and four touchdowns, and finished his career in Oakland. In nine NFL sea- sons, Walker appeared in 129 regular-season games and caught 180 passes for 1,770 yard and nine touchdowns. He also appeared in five playoff games and caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown, and was also an outstanding blocker. 4. Jay Riemersma: The converted quarterback caught 74 passes for 706 yards in two seasons as Michigan's tight end and didn't get picked until the seventh round of the 1996 NFL Draft, No.244 overall. Buffalo took him and kept him for seven seasons from 1996-2002, when he appeared in 90 games, 65 as a starter. He played three years with Pittsburgh before rupturing his Achilles tendon in December 2004, ending his career with 221 catches for 2,524 yards and 23 touch- downs. He would have been even more effective if he hadn't had to undergo eight surgeries during his career. 5. Doug Marsh: Marsh led Michigan in receiving as a senior in 1979 (33 catches for 612 yards) and earned All-Big Ten and third-team All-America honors. The St. Louis Cardinals picked him in the second round (33rd overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft, and he went on to play seven seasons for the Cardinals from 1980-86. He appeared in 92 games, 90 of them as the team's starting tight end, and caught 167 passes for 2,140 yards and 19 touchdowns. — Chris Balas Tony McGee, a second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1993, hauled in 322 recep- tions for 4,089 yards and 21 touchdowns during his 11-year NFL career. PHOTO COURTESY CINCINNATI BENGALS

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