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2013 Preview – Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

August 23, 2013

Wide Receivers

Projected Starters:  Jeremy Gallon (Sr.); Drew Dileo (Sr.); Amara Darboh (So.)

In the Mix: Jeremy Jackson (Sr.); Jehu Chesson (So.): Joe Reynolds (Sr.); Dennis Norfleet (So.) 

The one thing that keeps getting repeated by multiple people is the amazing chemistry Devin Gardner has developed with Jeremy Gallon.  Combine that with the 49 receptions and 829 yards Gallon had in 2012 and the expectations for Gallon are off the charts.  Though he’s only listed at 5’10” at best, he is Michigan’s #1 receiver and could be Michigan’s first 1,000 yard receiver since Mario Manningham did it in 2007.  After Gallon, the most reliable and likely target is senior Drew Dileo.  Dileo may be undersized and relatively slow, but he’s just a good football player.  He emerged last year to catch 20 passes and could double that number this year. After this week’s announcement that Amara Darboh is out for the season with a foot injury, the next paragraph is worthless, but feel free to read it if you enjoy inflicting pain on yourself.  While Gallon will make his fair share of big plays, the guy Michigan is counting on to stretch the field is sophomore Amara Darboh.  Darboh didn’t play last year as a freshman, but he appears ready to emerge this fall.  He was a little banged up in practice last week but should be ready to go by the season.  At 6’2 with high end speed, he’s already drawing comparisons to some of Michigan’s greatest receivers.  He has to prove it on the field, but he’s the guy to watch to breakout this fall.  

After Gallon, Dileo, there are a handful of guys who will contribute.  Seniors Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds are both reliable in both the pass and run game and will see significant time and be given the chance to contribute.  And sophomore Dennis Norfleet is best known for his kick returns, but he can be a very dangerous weapon in the short passing game and will get a chance to show it.  Jehu Chesson may have been just a part time contributor prior to Darboh’s injury, but Chesson will have a shot to prove what he can do now too.  Chesson is fast and has big playmaking ability, so we’ll see if he can fill in where Darboh was supposed to contribute. 

Tight Ends

Projected Starters: Devin Funchess (So.); AJ Williams (So.) OR Jordan Paskorz (RS Jr.) 

Possible Starters: Jake Butt (Fr.) 

With the full return to a pro style offense, Michigan will now find a bigger need for the tight end position.  The good news is that they’ve got some good ones.  Devin Funchess showed flashes of brilliance last year and is a future pro.  He’s more of a receiver than a blocker at this point and needs to work on the latter.  That being said, he may very well be Gardner’s #2 target after Gallon.  He’s a matchup nightmare for most defenses and should have a big year.  After Funchess the big bodies who will be helping get the ground game going are AJ Williams and Jordan Paskorz.  Williams still has the frame of an offensive tackle but the ability to run like a tight end, which is a good thing.  And Paskorz has come on in fall camp to prove that he can be an asset as well.  Finally, the perfectly named for his position Jake Butt is a freshman to watch.  Like Funchess he’s more receiver than blocker right now, but he has enough talent that he’ll see the field at some point this year.   I wouldn’t be surprised to see Michigan put Funchess at receiver from time to time and Butt at one of the tight end spots when they want to throw the ball.  

STRENGTHS 

With Gallon and Funchess, Michigan has two great playmakers that they can utilize in the receiving game.  And guys like Dileo and Norfleet will be in position to pick up yards and make plays well when Gardner goes away from his top targets.  There’s not a Braylon Edwards or Manningham type in the group, but the sum of the receivers and tight ends will give us enough weapons.  

WEAKNESSES

The biggest weakness on the wide receiver front is a prototypical wide receiver.  Gallon makes the most of his size and is a playmaker, but he doesn’t have the height or bulk to be the typical receiver we’re used to having at Michigan.  Darboh had that potential, but we’ll have to wait until next year to see him play.    

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