2014 Michigan Football Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Previously: Offense: Offensive Line, Running Backs
                    Defense: Defensive Line, Linebackers

The receiver position at Michigan is one of those things that gets undervalued sometimes.

Take Jeremy Gallon for example. Had a banner 2013 season. Broke the single-season yardage record…which I would say is pretty stinkin impressive when you consider he topped guys like 2004 Braylon Edwards, Mario Manningham, Marquise Walker, 2003 Braylon Edwards, David Terrell, Amani Toomer, etc etc etc. And where was he drafted? 244th by the New England Patriots. I'd say they got a steal, I don't care how short he is.

So yes, Gallon and his 2,704 career receiving yards are gone. So is Drew Dileo who, let's not kid ourselves, despite a mild case of the drops last year, was a pretty crucial element of the Michigan offense at times during his career. He was also the placeholder for field goals, so we're also gonna need a new one of those now too.

Also gone…Joe Reynolds and Jeremy Jackson.

So who's back?

Devin Funchess
Right behind Gallon last year in yardage and relative importance was Devin Funchess. The junior tight end turned wide receiver is a shoe-in for the Mount Rushmore of Team 135. Anyone who still refers to Funchess as a tight end clearly didn't watch last season or they just don't understand football. He's a receiver. A big receiver, but a receiver. He'll be Gardner's favorite target.

He's a primetime NFL prospect, no doubt. But he did have some consistency issues last year. Most people like to remember him making Ohio State defensive backs look silly, but its easy to forget numerous dropped passes in the Michigan State game. He needs to work on those kinds of things.

Jehu Chesson
Was a moderately popular target earlier in the season before the offense went into full turtle mode and only threw to Gallon/Funchess/Butt through the second half of the season. With Gallon out of the equation and Funchess leading this group, Chesson will be competing for catches with…

Amara Darboh
Injured his foot in fall camp last year and redshirted. Was a special teams contributor in 2012 as a freshman. Recruited with Chesson, both seem to be eternally linked although Darboh was always presumed to be the more talented of the two whether that's fair or not. Assuming his foot injury didn't leave any lasting damage, he should step right back into that leading role.

Dennis Norfleet
I just want to say right here and now that I tweeted out every single game the last two years that Norfleet was going to take a kickoff return to the house and it never happened. Please Michigan offensive coaches, don't let that be Norfleet's legacy at Michigan. He can be so much more…and not just a double reverse side show…but like a real bonafide slot receiver. Let's make this happen, mkay?

Drake Harris, Moe Ways, Freddy Canteen, Csont'e York
Figure one of these guys will step up and get his beak wet with real game action. Canteen is getting all kinds of offseason love right now. All I see with these guys is youth and talent. And with an offense that is looking to rebound, bountiful options at any skill position is a nice thing to have.

True freshman Jake Butt stepped right into Devin Fucnhess' shoes at TE last year and I don't think Michigan could ask for a better option at that position. Good blocker first and foremost and a great route runner/pass catcher. Unfortunately the ACL demon stuck in mid-February and has kept Butt out of action this offseason. The prognosis for ACL surgery these days seems to be about 7-8 months, which puts a 90% serviceable Butt back into the lineup by mid-late September.

Yes, I said serviceable Butt.

AJ Williams should be the go-to until Jake returns. SDE turned TE Keith Heitzman is another option. Khalid Hill and Ian Bunting are both young options on the depth chart.

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