Michigan Football will kick off the 2013 season on August 31st when they host Central Michigan at the Big House. We’ll have an abundance of content for our readers between now and then. This installment of our position preview series will focus on the wide receivers and tight ends. Both position groups are very young and there are only a few players with significant playing time under their belts. There is a key position change in this group, see Dennis Norfleet, and probably the most difficult projected starter prediction, trying to foretell who will start opposite of Jeremy Gallon.
What we know
Forget that the roster lists Jeremy Gallon at 5-foot-8, 184 pounds. The 5th year senior receiver is a playmaker, who plays much bigger than his listed size. Gallon has always had a good rapport with Devin Gardner and they showcased that in the Outback Bowl. Against a good South Carolina defense, Gallon hauled in 9 receptions for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns. Against Alabama, Gallon caught 4 passes for 107 yards, including a 71 yarder. He enters the season ranked 27th on Michigan’s all-time list with 84 career receptions.
As a true freshman last season, Devin Funchess emerged as a star in the making at tight end. He finished the season with 15 receptions for 234 yards and 5 touchdowns. Funchess averaged 15.6 yards per catch and he did so while flashing impressive athleticism and great hands. He was named a freshman All-American by the Football Writer’s Association and was also an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Funchess is now bulked up to 6-5, 235 and ready to hulk his way through opposing defenses.
Areas of concern
Aside from Gallon and Funchess, Michigan’s leading returning receivers are Drew Dileo (20 receptions) and Devin Gardner (16 receptions). Obviously Gardner isn’t going to be hauling in many passes this season. Dileo is a scrappy player with a knack for making the clutch reception. Beyond that, Michigan has just two returning receivers that caught a pass last year; Jeremy Jackson with 4 and Joe Reynolds with 3. That’s it. There are some talented youngsters who will battle for playing time, but no experience.
Potential breakout player
During a radio interview with Colin Cowherd, Brady Hoke identified redshirt freshman receiver Jehu Chesson as a surprise dark horse player to keep an eye on this season. Chesson is 6-foot-3, 196 pounds and has good speed.
At tight end, I think true freshman Jake Butt could make an impact. He is 6-6, 230 and was an early enrollee. Butt snagged a touchdown pass in the spring game and could develop as an early contributor, the way Funchess did last year.
Also keep an eye on Dennis Norfleet, the explosive kick-returner has been moved from running back to slot receiver and is an ideal guy to run reverses and other quick hitting plays.
WR: Jeremy Gallon (RS Sr, 5-8, 184)
WR: Jehu Chesson ( RS Fr, 6-3, 196)
TE: Devin Funchess (So, 6-5, 235)
Key reserves: Drew Dileo, Amara Darboh, AJ Williams, Joe Reynolds, Jeremy Jackson, Dennis Norfleet
Incoming freshmen: Jake Butt, Da’Mario Jones, Csont’e York, Jaron Dukes, Khalid Hill
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