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2012 Michigan Football Preview – Receivers and Tight Ends

August 30, 2012

Wide Receivers

Projected Starters: Roy Roundtree (Sr.); Jeremy Gallon (Jr.)

In the Mix: Devin Gardner (Jr.); Jerald Robinson (So.); Drew Dileo (Jr.); Amara Darboh (Fr.); Jeremy Jackson (Jr.)

There is no doubt who the primary go to receivers will be on this Michigan team.  As the #2 and #3 receivers on the 2011 team,  Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree combined for 50 catches, over 800 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Respectable, but not necessarily exceptional numbers.  What may be most surprising is that of the two, Gallon was more productive last year, with 31 catches and 453 yards.  After Roundtree’s 72 catch 935 yards 7 touchdown sophomore season, many expected him to elevate to an All-Conference in 2011.  Instead, he took a giant leap backward in statistics in order to better serve the team.  The hope is that Gallon can build on his breakout sophomore campaign and Roundtree can revert to his 2010 form and give Michigan a legitimate 1,000 yard receiving threat.

With both Roundtree and Gallon being undersized, a big part of their success will be whether or not Michigan can find a replacement for departed senior Junior Hemingway, who served as the team’s “jump-ball” specialist and #1 receiver.  Michigan has three big receivers on the roster who might be able to fill that role, but each brings their own question mark.  Part-time QB/part-time WR Devin Gardner certainly looks the part.  The 6-4 junior is fast, athletic, and looks to be built like an NFL receiver.  But will the moonlighting at QB keep him from developing completely as a wide receiver.  And if something happens to Denard Robinson, will Gardner ever see the field at receiver?  Sophomore Jerald Robinson certainly looks the part of a playmaking receiver at 6-1 and 206 pounds, and he has enough speed to make him a threat.  The problem is that he’s completely unproven with no career catches.  I generally find that receivers who are going to be breakout stars tend to find the field as a freshman (Edwards, Manningham, etc.), but I’m hoping to be proven wrong by Robinson.  Speaking of freshman who could see the field – incoming wide receiver Amara Darboh might be the next big thing.  The 6-2 190 pound Darboh was one of the top rated receiving recruits in the country last year, and has apparently made an impression in fall camp.  He has the ability to go up and get the ball, and also has the speed necessary to get open.  Don’t be surprised if he’s seeing regular playing time by the time the Big Ten Season roles around.

Though he may seem like an afterthought, Drew Dileo is also someone to look out for.  Dileo won’t ever be the #1 go to guy, or even the primary 2nd or 3rd option, but he caught 9 passes last year in first year of real action, and has shown the ability to make plays.  He’s reliable and scrappy, and will be tough to keep off the field the whole year.  Finally, junior Jeremy Jackson may not be a star, but he’s a reliable pass catcher who can be counted on to block and contribute.

Tight Ends

Projected Starters: Brandon Moore (Sr.)

Possible Starters: Ricardo Miller (Jr.); AJ Williams (Fr.) Devin Funchess (Fr.)

Heading into the 2012 season, Tight End is probably the biggest question mark on either side of the ball.   Brandon Moore is the only returning player with any experience, and he’s only played sparingly in his first three years, amassing just two career receptions.  Moore is a capable blocker, but has yet to show that he can be a difference maker in the passing game.  The good news is that young help is on the way.  Freshman Devin Funchess is exactly what you want in a tight end – tall, athletic, and a threat in the passing game.  Though Moore will be the #1 tight end, Funchess is the name you’ll hear as I expect him to be highlighted in the passing game.  Freshman AJ Williams has the frame of an offensive tackle at 6’6 and 270 pounds, but he’s been promised the chance to start off his career at tight end.  He moves well for a big man and is obviously an asset in the run game, but I’d be surprised if he sticks at tight end his whole career.  The other player who may end up at tight end is junior Ricardo Miller who has bounced back and forth between tight end and wide receiver his whole career.  He’s back at wide receiver this year apparently, but he could just as easily bounce back to tight end again.


The biggest strength Michigan has from its receivers is the experience of Roundtree and Gallon.  Both are playmakers who have played a lot of football.  And while Michigan has a lot of question marks at wide receiver, the talent base, including Devin Gardner, appears to be there.


In general, tight end might be the weakest position group on the team.  With no proven players returning, Michigan is going to have to rely on Moore and/or Funchess to surprise.  Moore has three years of football under his belt, so at this point, he’s probably not destined to breakout.  If Michigan is going to find success from a tight end, I think it will be Funchess.  Since he’s a freshman, that’s probably unlikely as well.   Look for a lot of 3 and 4 receiver sets from Michigan without a tight end this fall.


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