Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link: https://read.uberflip.com/i/526035

Contents of this Issue


Page 83 of 163

82 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW TIGHT ENDS He's also been in the weight room, trying to add strength. Poggi, a 6-4, 273-pound redshirt sophomore, and Strobel, a 6-6, 270-pound redshirt junior, meanwhile, are in the experimental phase — they are still listed on the roster on the defensive line, but a move is at least under consideration. Some schools recruited Poggi as a tight end, a position he played in high school. "Both are big, tough, nasty guys, who brought a little more edge to the room," Harbaugh said. "I like what they did. They worked hard. We'll see how they factor in for us in the fall. "We like guys that are flexible and play football wherever we need them to, and you'd be surprised — they can catch the rock. They love it, too." Among the veterans, 6-3, 231-pound walk-on Michael Jocz also fits that bill. Harbaugh said the redshirt junior is a "smart guy, versa- tile player and much more athletic than people are aware of." And the youngest of the bunch, incoming freshman Tyrone Wheat- ley Jr. (6-6, 260), has all that and more as an incoming four-star target out of Buffalo, N.Y., Canisius High. Wheatley's another who could play defense, but Harbaugh will get him first. "He's a big, enormous man, has tons of physical talent and shows remarkably good feet for his size," Harbaugh said. "All that physical stuff aside, I think he has a serious desire to become the best player he can be. "Development is a crucial thing to him, and he takes it seriously. He's a no-nonsense guy who is great to be around, a guy you want in your room, a guy who will help you on the field and be an excellent teammate. He's going to be outstanding, and I'm excited to work with him." That goes for all of them, he said. Jim Harbaugh's playbook has always included a few chapters for the tight ends, and they'll all get their opportunity to shine. "They should be excited," Jay Harbaugh said. "They can appreci- ate the amount we will demand of them from a scheme standpoint, involvement in different personnel groupings, all the different for- mations, shifts and motions. They'll really have the opportunity to leave here when their careers are over with a full résumé in terms of looking at the next level. "There's nothing an NFL team would ever ask a tight end to do that we won't ask them to do here. For me, that's an exciting thing in terms of development for a player." ❏ QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Jay Harbaugh (first season). Returning Starters: Jake Butt (13 career starts), A.J. Williams (11), Khalid Hill (3). Departing Starter: None. Projected New Starter: None. Top Reserve: Hill. Wait Until 2016: Ian Bunting. Newcomers: Tyrone Wheatley Jr. Moved In: Chase Winovich (from linebacker) Moved Out: None. Rookie Impact: Wheatley. Most Improved Player: Williams. Best Pro Prospect: Butt. FYI: Williams scored a touchdown on his first career catch, a two-yard reception at Iowa in 2013 … Alabama recruited Poggi as a tight end before he ultimately decided to go to U-M as a defensive lineman … Michigan's tight end group has accounted for 49 catches combined in their careers; Bennie Joppru caught 53 in his senior year (2002) alone, a Michigan tight end record … U-M had gone eight years without an All-Big Ten tight end before Devin Funchess earned the honor in 2013. Tim Massaquoi (2004) was the last one before him … No former Michigan tight end has played in an NFL game since 2008. Jerame Tuman and Mark Campbell, stalwarts on the 1997 national champion- ship team, both retired after the 2008 season. PRESEASON ANALYSIS: TIGHT ENDS Starter ✪ ✪ ✪ 1 ⁄2 Junior Jake Butt has outstanding potential, and he appears to be 100 percent recov- ered from an ACL injury suffered last year. Now he needs to prove he's a Big Ten-level blocker and pass catcher. Senior A.J. Williams is essentially another blocker on the line, but odds are he'll have a few more balls thrown his way this year. Depth ✪ ✪ After Butt and Williams, redshirt sophomore Khalid Hill is the only other tight end on the roster who has caught a pass (and keep in mind, Williams and Hill have nine career receptions, combined). Redshirt freshman Ian Bunting still needs to add strength in order to be a significant contributor, while Hill is returning from an injury. X-Factor Michigan will be running the ball plenty in the early going, and it needs its tight ends to be outstanding blockers. None of them are there yet, and it's a lot to ask a true fresh- man (Tyrone Wheatley Jr.) to compete with the Big Ten's big boys, even if he is physically ready. The best blockers will play more in the first few games of the season, though, and Wheatley has the frame and the willingness. Overall ✪ ✪ ✪ There are no provens beyond Butt, and even he's been somewhat inconsistent in his first two years. There's no Jerame Tuman or Bennie Joppru on the roster, but this group could grow into a solid unit by year's end. Note: Star rankings are made on a scale of 1-5 stars. Redshirt sophomore tight end Khalid Hill hauled in four passes for 37 yards in six games before going down with a torn ACL in practice last year. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

Articles in this issue

view archives of Michigan Football Preview 2015 - 2015 Michigan Football Preview