The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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40 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022   COMMITMENT PROFILE M i c h i ga n e n d e d a two - m o n t h drought when it picked up a commitment from four-star tight end Deakon Tonielli on June 19. The Oswego (Ill.) High product picked Michigan over offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Tennessee and others. "I've had my interest on Michigan for the longest time," Tonielli said. "It felt like home. I knew what I was getting from Michigan. I knew I could get the highest level of education and play at the highest level of college football, so it was really a no-brainer for me. I'm excited to get there, work out with the team and have some fun." Tonielli made a handful of unofficial visits to Michigan during his recruiting process and was considered a U-M lean for several visits. His official visit to Michigan helped him make his decision. "Just being on an official visit with the commits and the players on the team really showed the brotherhood that they have," Tonielli said. "That visit really showed what I wanted in a school. The visit solidified it for me. "The weight room is insane, and you're in there 90 percent of the time you're there. Seeing that and the sign that says 'What are you doing to beat Ohio State today?' It made Michigan a no-brainer." The official visit also gave Tonielli a chance to bond with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who helped close the deal with the talented pass catcher and his family. "I was a little starstruck," Tonielli said. "Hearing the things he had to say about my play really humbled me a lot. "My dad has always been a big foot- ball fan, and it was a great experience for the both of us. I think we got to talk to him for an hour and a half. We were only supposed to be in there for 30 minutes. That says a lot about him." Michigan tight ends coach Grant Newsome also played a pivotal role in this recruitment. Tonielli's pledge marks the first recruiting win for New- some, who transitioned from gradu- ate assistant to full-time assistant this offseason. "I love Coach Newsome," Tonielli said. "I can talk to him about anything. He's an awesome guy. He's like a second father to me. The way he coaches on the field and the way he is off the field makes him a great coach. Just from my visits, I feel like I've learned more from him than anybody else." At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Tonielli is an athletic flex end that spends most of his time split out wide at the high school level. Michigan is known as a program that utilizes the position well and often has multiple tight ends on the field at the same time. Tonielli is excited about the fit at Michigan and believes he can be a com- plete tight end by the time his career in Ann Arbor comes to a close. "They told me that I'll be more of an H-back when I get there as a freshman," Tonielli said. "When I get some size in me and get some blocking down, I'll be able to stay in-line and block and be a threat on the outside." Tonielli recorded 32 receptions for 385 yards and two touchdowns as a junior. He is ranked as the No. 16 tight end na- tionally and No. 4 overall prospect in the state of Illinois, per On3. — EJ Holland Official Visit Leads Illinois Tight End Deakon Tonielli To U-M On3 ranks Tonielli as the No. 16 tight end in the country and the No. 4 overall prospect in the state of Illinois. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND/ON3.COM PLAYER EVALUATION Strengths: Tonielli is a natural pass catcher that spends most of his time in a quasi-wide receiver role. He plays on the outside and in the slot, and he can be a mismatch night- mare for opposing defenses. He is also a gifted basketball player and shows his athleticism on 50-50 balls, often outjumping the defender. Tonielli bends well for his size and has no true issues getting in and out of breaks. He has plenty of athletic potential and upside. Areas Of Improvement: Tonielli will have to adjust to being a true tight end at the next level. While he is a willing blocker, he still needs to improve in that area. Tonielli doesn't have much experience playing in- line and will absolutely have to do that at the next level. Route running from the in-line spot should come naturally but will have to be refined. Tonielli has a thinner frame for a tight end and needs to develop in the strength and conditioning pro- gram. Michigan Player Comparison: Tonielli is very similar to 2022 Michi- gan tight end signee Marlin Klein. As a junior in high school, Klein had a very thin frame and spent almost his entire time on the field split out wide. He bulked up as a senior and garnered more experience playing in-line. The plan for Tonielli is to do the same at Oswego this season. — EJ Holland

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