Michigan Football Position Preview: Tight End
Kickoff is less than two months away and we are in the dead period for any news on the team and in college football in general. With that being said, let’s look over each position on the team and who is competing for the starting position and predict who will win each position. Today I will look at the tight end position. This position has nine guys fighting for the top spot as Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson were the best receivers on the team last year and they look to keep those spots. Grant Perry, Drake Harris, and Maurice Ways are looking to get more playing time and get on the field to fight for those top two spots. Michigan has five incoming freshman in Ahmir Mitchell, Brad Hawkins, Eddie McDoom, Dylan Crawford and Nate Johnson who will be fighting hard to just sniff the field. Three wildcards are Jack Wangler, Kenneth Sloss, and Austin Brenner as they very little to no playing time and they will see this as a chance to step up and get on the field more often or at least once. These 13 men are going to fight like hell to prove to coach Harbaugh that they are the starting tight end at Michigan. Let’s breakdown each candidate.
A possible first round pick in the 2015 draft returns to Michigan for his senior year to not only lock himself as a first round pick, but to win a championship for the team. Jake Butt has done well for the Wolverines in his tenure and with Devin Funchess gone after last year, Butt was a big target and put up great numbers. Butt has 92 catches for 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns in his three years on the team. Butt is on the preseason John Mackey Award watch list, and with a good year he could win it. Butt could have another good year and with a solid receiving core, offensive line and run game, he should be able to continue getting the amount of targets and catches to impress scouts and be the next great tight end in the NFL.
The first freshman of three on this list, Devin Asiasi is a top five tight end in the country and could get some playing time this season. Asiasi had 41 catches for 752 yards and eight touchdowns in his high school career and he looks to do the same in the maize and blue.
The former quarterback now turned tight end Zach Gentry will have some learning to do. He was told midway through the season last year that he could be moved somewhere else and by the Citrus Bowl, he was warming up as a tight end. Gentry will have to learn the position even more and understand the routes and blocking schemes before he steps on the field in a game. This year should be a learning year for Gentry.
The second incoming freshman at the tight end position, McKeon looks to prove his worth above the other freshman and other players. McKeon had 42 catches for 688 yards and six touchdowns in his two years on the varsity team in high school.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
Like father like son, Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is looking to get on the field for the first time after not playing at all last season. The man had 27 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns while in high school and he could be a good fit as the number two spot.
A red shirt senior, Jocz is looking to make his final year his best one possible. He was a reserve tight end last year against BYU and in total he has appeared in six games, along with being on the Academic All Big-Ten team in 2014 and 2015. Jocz will have some stiff competition if he wants to see the field for the final time.
A sophomore from Fowlerville High School, Ferris will have even a harder challenge than Jocz as he doesn’t have any experience, so look for him to take a seat and learn some lessons before getting a chance.
The final freshman on this list is Nick Eubanks. He had 49 catches for 752 yards and seven touchdowns in his high school career. Him, Asiasi and McKeon will all be competing against one another because one of them, maybe even two, will get a redshirt and none of them will want that.
Bunting is the only guy on this list that has experience in games besides Jake Butt. Bunting played in four games last year and had five catches for 72 yards. At the spring game this year, Bunting showed up and had two catches for 53 yards. He impressed during the spring game and if he can have a good camp before the season starts, he could be a solid number two for the Wolverines.
Who Will be the Starting Tight End Come Week One?
The top two spots seemed to be locked up, but the rest of the roster will be fighting for the third string spot. With Jim Harbaugh as coach, even the fifth string could see playing time.
- Jake Butt
- Ian Bunting
- Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
- Devin Asiasi
- Michael Jocz
- Zach Gentry
- Kenneth Ferris
- Nick Eubanks (red shirt)
- Sean McKeon (red shirt)