The Wolverine

November 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 26 of 59

NOVEMBER 2020 THE WOLVERINE 27 BY JOHN BORTON O ne preseason forecast posed a simple question when it came to Michigan's tight ends. It asked: Nick Eubanks and who else? That won't remain a question for long. Yes, the Wolverines' 6-5, 256-pound fifth-year senior rightly draws most of the attention, like he might on game day. After all, he's U-M's biggest target at the position, pulling in 25 catches for 243 yards and four touch- downs last season, one of which came against Alabama in the Citrus Bowl. Anyone considering Eubanks as a one-man show, however, should be quickly disabused of the notion. Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis certainly doesn't see it that way. Oh, he's more than happy to have Eubanks on hand, especially after offseason talk that the big tight end might forego a final year at Michigan and make a run at the NFL. But Gattis knows there's more to talk about. He did so recently, bringing up an- other name before he submitted his potential All-Big Ten tight end. "A guy I'll come out and mention, who is having an exceptional camp, is Erick All," Gattis said. "He's going to be a special talent at tight end. When you've got Erick, you've got Nick [Eu- banks], you've got Schoony [redshirt sophomore Luke Schoonmaker] … our tight end room has been excep- tional this camp." Head coach Jim Harbaugh has talked about All like he's all that and a bag of chip blocks since the sopho- more tight end arrived last fall. One of the most aggressive blockers on the team, All quickly won a job as a true freshman. The 6-4, 242-pounder out of Fair- field, Ohio, appeared in 11 games as a rookie, catching one pass and grow- ing significantly in Gattis' system. Now he's followed that effort up with a strong one in Michigan's belated fall camp, and should be ready to provide immediate depth in both his and Gat- tis' second season in Ann Arbor. Meanwhile, Schoonmaker isn't exactly compact at 6-5, 252. He also appeared in 11 games in 2019, catch- ing a pair of passes for 54 yards. He also knows about making touchdown grabs thrown from redshirt sopho- more projected starting quarterback Joe Milton. Milton pitched Schoonmaker a 29-yard TD toss against Rutgers last year, and the two hope to team up for many more in the coming days. Schoonmaker told former Wolver- ine Jon Jansen, on the Inside Michigan Football radio show, that he's looking to improve in specific areas this year. "I would say just continuing to bet- ter myself in both aspects of the game, with blocking and running routes," Schoonmaker said. "I think I've cer- tainly improved that, just with the time that we've had since being back. "I've taken some great strides. And Coach [Sherrone] Moore has certainly worked me and worked us to just continue getting better." Gattis sees it playing out before his eyes, with the season now at hand. "We're just as excited about those guys as we are all of our receiving corps," he said. "Those guys, all to- gether, have really good chemistry and make some big plays for us." The Wolverines are working 6-3, 233-pound true freshman Matthew Hibner into that chemistry. Hibner hails from Burke, Va., and figures to be in a learning mode during one of the oddest fall seasons in many years around Ann Arbor. That's okay, as far as Michigan's tight ends are concerned. They're get- ting ready to make up for lost time, as far more than a one-man operation. ❑ ONE HEADLINER AND SEVERAL CONTRIBUTORS TIGHT ENDS TIGHT ENDS' UPS AND DOWNS DETAILED Michigan's tight ends represent one of the smallest position groups on the squad, but could certainly deliver a big impact on the field. Here are both sides of their potential contributions coin: Biggest Strength: It remains fifth-year senior Nick Eubanks, who is poised for an all-conference type campaign. Michigan's wideouts won't be as lanky this year as in recent seasons, and redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Milton will need an easily identifiable target when he inevitably gets in a tight spot. The 6-5 Eubanks figures to stand out and reap the rewards of his skills and experience. Biggest Concern: Any time the numbers are thin, a big injury or two can be devastating at a position group. The Wolverines cannot afford them at tight end, with only three players who have seen the field. Position coach Sherrone Moore will have his performers ready, but they might benefit as much as any crew on the squad from a shortened season. — John Borton Though fifth-year senior Nick Eubanks is the most productive returning tight end on the roster, sophomore Erick All (pictured) had an "exceptional" pre- season camp according to offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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