The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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116 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW TE but maybe more so, he has to gain an understanding of the system. It's a new system for him, too. He was in a different system a year ago, and that has held him back a little. He made some mistakes that I don't think he should be making. "He has to study it and get it, because when he does and the light goes on — and we see it from time to time in practice — we are very impressed. However, at this point, he probably isn't as consistent as he needs to be. A lot of it his right up here, in his head. "[Graduate assistant] Kevin Koger and I will get to working with him, and help him learn it. Whatever way that is, we have to get him to that point, because he is a good player. Right now, he is not where he needs to be, but he's going to get there. I'm going to make sure of that." Beyond Williams, Heitzman and Hill, Michigan's options are slim at tight end. Redshirt sophomore walk-on Michael Jocz (6-4, 231) is a hard- working practice player, but the former high school wide receiver may not be ready for actual game time yet. "He's just a little light right now," Ferrigno said. "He does everything right. He's a 4.0 student in engineering. I'm afraid to say anything wrong in my room, because I know he's going to remember what I told him yesterday. I don't know if he'll contribute this year, but he is a really great kid. If he puts on some weight, maybe he will." Ferrigno believes Ian Bunting, an incoming rookie that stands 6-7, 225 and was rated a four-star prospect by, will eventually be an H. But until Bunting gets to campus, the coaches won't know whether he can contribute this season. "With Ian Bunting, we will see where he fits, coming in, whether he will be ready to play right away," Ferrigno said. "That is the great unknown right now." The Wolverines are still waiting for a player to emerge, to step up and fill in for Butt, until he is ready to see the field — and, in reality, that question does not yet have an answer. "The fall, the month we practice in August, will tell a lot," Ferrigno said. "Right now, I reserve judgment. Everyone, including A.J., needs to show progress. A.J. isn't where he needs to be, but he has improved. He is a better player than he was last year. "The other two guys have to learn what they need to do, so they can play faster. If one or both of them does, we will be in good shape. And that will determine how Nussmeier calls plays. Doug wants to play with two tight ends, but we may not be able to right away, until we get it right." ❏ BIG TEN RANKINGS PLAYERS 1. Maxx Williams, R-So., Minnesota — Led the Golden Gophers in catches (25), yards (417) and touchdowns (five) last year, including five catches for 54 yards and a score against Michigan. 2. Jesse James, Jr., Penn State — The 6-7, 257-pound matchup nightmare has been a consistent threat in the passing game for the last two seasons. His size causes problems for defenses. 3. Jeff Heuerman, Sr., Ohio State — Has started 22 games for the Buckeyes and had a breakout season as a junior, hauling in 26 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns. 4. Justin Sinz, Sr., Purdue — Led the team in catches (41) and receiv- ing touchdowns (four) last season, finishing the year with 340 yards. 5. Tyler Kroft, Jr., Rutgers — Could be a contender for All-Big Ten at- tention with another strong season. Led the Scarlet Knights in catches (43) and yards (573) while adding four touchdowns in 2013. 6. A.J. Williams, Jr., Michigan — Has just one career catch (a one- yard touchdown at Iowa last year), but showed improvement as both a receiver and blocker during the spring after shedding 15 pounds. 7. Matt LaCosse, Jr., Illinois — Hauled in 20 catches for 237 yards and three touchdowns last season, and could put up even bigger num- bers in 2014 while Illinois looks for answers in the wide receiving corps. 8. Kyle Carter, Jr., Penn State — Registered a combined 54 catches for 675 yards and three touchdowns in the last two seasons. 9. Jake Butt, So., Michigan — A pleasant surprise as a rookie in 2013, catching 20 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Would likely be higher on this list, but he will miss three to four games while recovering from an ACL injury. 10. Jake Duzey, So., Iowa — Turned in possibly the best single-game performance of any tight end in the conference, catching six passes for 138 yards and a touchdown versus Ohio State. Will be forced to play a bigger role in the offense with the graduation of C.J. Fiedorowicz. UNITS 1. Penn State — The Nittany Lions have three tight ends that are potential game changers. Last season, Jesse James, Kyle Carter and sophomore Adam Breneman combined for 58 catches for 741 yards and seven touchdowns. 2. Minnesota — Leading receiver Maxx Williams and senior Drew Goodger (seven catches for 111 yards and one score) are back in 2014 and should give a big boost to the Gopher offense. 3. Michigan — The Wolverines are in a strange spot, tight end-wise, with the loss of Devin Funchess to the wide receiver corps. Jake Butt will eventually be back in the fold after recovering from an ACL injury, but Michigan has several options, including former defensive end Keith Heitzman, to get some production out of the tight end spot. 4. Rutgers — Along with Tyler Kroft, who led Rutgers in catches (43) and yards (573) last year, the Scarlet Knights have sophomore Nick Ar- cidiacono, who chipped in five catches for 44 yards in 2013. 5. Ohio State — The tight end spot isn't a huge factor in Urban Meyer's offensive scheme, but Jeff Heuerman will be a threat for op- posing defenses all season. Year Rec. Yards TDs 2013 70 985 9 2012 19 271 5 2011 25 262 5 2010 19 266 3 2009 21 283 3 Year Rec. Yards TDs 2008 8 110 1 2007 27 327 2 2006 39 393 3 2005 40 422 4 2004 35 341 2 Offensive Production By Tight Ends U-M coaches liked the versatility redshirt freshman Khalid Hill dis- played in high school — he saw action at tackle, tight end, wide re- ceiver and slot receiver — and believe he can be an asset at either of the tight end positions (H and Y). PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 113-117.TEs.indd 116 6/19/14 2:04 PM

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