Each week leading up to the Spring Game, I’ll take a look at each position Michigan will be recruiting and which recruit could possibly fill the needed spots. This week, I’ll be looking at a position Jim Harbaugh has a niche in developing- Tight End
Who is Michigan Targeting at Tight End in 2016?
Heading into the 2015 season, Michigan only has five players on their roster listed as a Tight End in; A.J Williams, Khalid Hill, Ian Bunting, Michael Jocz, and Jake Butt. We all know by now that Jim Harbaugh loves tight ends and is extremely good at developing them. During his time at Stanford, Harbaugh turned several recruits into NFL roster players, which include; Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz, Jim Dray and Levine Toilol. With so much experience regarding Tight Ends, it’s no surprise that top recruits at the position are now looking at Michigan. According to 24/7, Michigan has offered twelve tight ends in the 2016 recruiting cycle, and most of them have interest in playing at Michigan. So, who is most likely out of this group to join the Wolverines?
1) Devin Asiasi (Concord, CA)
Devin is without a doubt one of the highest targets on Michigan's board for 2016. He was one of the very first 2016 tight ends that the coaching staff extended an offer towards, and he fits the exact mold as to what the coaching staff looks for in tight ends.
Devin Asiasi is one recruit who would be extremely dangerous in a Jim Harbaugh offence. He has your prototypical size at 6'5 and 265 lbs. He moves very well for someone his size, and is a constant threat to catch the ball. Every time I watch his highlight film, all I can do is dream of what a nightmare he'd be to match-up against in the red zone. He's a decent route runner and always seems to get in 1on1 coverage, leading to him catching the ball most times. Does a good job of catching the ball and absorbing contact. One of the hardest recruits I've watched to get taken down by defenders. Keeps his legs moving while being tackled, and since he's so powerful, he's able to break a lot of tackles. Very agile for a tight end, and can contort his body like a wide receiver to catch the ball. Asiasi is definitely a name to be remembered going forward.
Devin is a consensus four star recruit, who is ranked as the #5 tight end and #110 overall recruit according to Rivals. He holds a very impressive scholarship offer list including; Alabama, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Auburn, Arizona State, and Washington.
2) Naseir Upshur (Philadelphia, PA)
Naseir is a recruit that has been offered by both the Brady Hoke and Jim Harbaugh coaching staffs. In December, Naseir released a Top 15 list which didn’t include Michigan at the time. Since Harbaugh’s hiring, Naseir has seen a boosted interest in Michigan, and at this point I would assume they have climbed back into his top schools.
Naseir is rated as one of the top tight ends in the nation and for good reason. He’s a do it all type tight end, who excels in blocking and in the passing game. He’s good excellent size standing at 6’3 and already weighing 235 pounds. Can lineup as a traditional tight end on the line of scrimmage, or to the outside in pass catching plays. Plays very aggressive and will finish his blocks. Gets low on his man and dominates in blocking situations. Although he won’t burn many defenders with his speed, he does have more than adequate speed for someone his size. Gets off the line of scrimmage with a good burst. A solid route runner, who will constantly pull in short yardage passes. A very dangerous red-zone threat due to his size and pass catching abilities. Can high point the ball and bring it in. Isn't afraid to go across the middle or to the outside.
Naseir is also a consensus four star recruit, who is ranked as the #3 tight end and #61 overall in the 2016 recruiting cycle according to Rivals. He boasts a very impressive scholarship offer list including school such as; Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, Ohio State, UCLA, USC, and South Carolina.
3) Cary Angeline (Exton, PA)
Cary is a prospect who has seen a major boost in his recruitment lately, seeing many big named schools offering him a scholarship over the past month.
Cary is a much underrated recruit in my mind. He’s got excellent size and speed to be a force at the college level. He gets off the line of scrimmage very quick and can get down field in a hurry. With Cary standing at 6’7, he is constantly over matching linebackers/defensive backs with his size. He’s got excellent hands and can bring in just about any ball thrown his way. Due to his height, he is able to high point the ball and makes the catch over the heads of defenders. A very under-rated route runner, who can run short or deep routes. Is one of the harder tight ends to bring down by defenders due to his size, and does an excellent job of keeping his legs moving while absorbing contact. A very high ceiling recruit, who could have a lot of success in a pro-style offense.
Cary is rated as a 4* recruit by; Scout, 24/7, and ESPN. He holds scholarships from; USC, Virginia, Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Miami, and Alabama. As a junior, Cary had 67 receptions for 1,051 yards, with 10 touchdowns.
4) Isaac Nauta (Bradenton, FL)
Isaac is another recruit that has been recruited by both coaching staffs. Although he committed to Florida State in December, this hasn't stopped the coaching staff from recruiting him. Nauta recently told 24/7’s Luke Stampini that he will be taking an official visit to Michigan later on this year.
Isaac is rated as the #1 tight end in 2016 by both Rivals and 24/7. He’s easily the most dominate tight end in the 2016 recruiting cycle and his highlight tape proves it. Isaac is one of the faster tight ends in 2016 and is constantly a threat in passing situations. Excellent size at 6’4/240 pounds and already has the strength needed to play tight end at the college level. Isaac is an excellent route runner and always seems to find himself in open space. Does a good job of high pointing the ball and bringing it down. Good hands and is easily one of the best pass catchers in this year’s class. Wherever Isaac ends up playing in college, he will surely vie for playing time early on in his career, as he is too talented to not be on the field.
Flipping Isaac won’t be the easiest task, but with an official visit in the works, anything is possible.
5) Jacob Mathis (Tampa, FL)
Jacob is a new name to the Michigan recruiting game. He wasn't offered by the previous staff and in early November received a phone call while at school from Jim Harbaugh informing him that he had an offer to the University of Michigan.
Being a tight end is sort of new to Jacob, as he was lined up mostly as a wide receiver for his Berkeley Prep High School squad. Since he has so much experience as a receiver, Jacob is exceptionally good as a pass-catcher. He has a good frame standing at 6’3, but will need to add on some additional mass once he arrives in college. He’s a more than adequate route runner and has no problem beating his man in 1on1 coverage. When I first watched his film, I was surprised at how quickly he gets off the line of scrimmage and down field. He’s good very good straight line speed and when the ball is in his hands, he turns into a very shifty runner. Very soft hands and rarely drops a catch-able ball. Since he has played receiver for most of his high school career, Jacob will have to work on his blocking, as he hasn't seem much playing time on the line of scrimmage. Jacob will surely benefit with a redshirt wherever he ends up playing his collegiate career, but that doesn't mean he won’t have an illustrious career. With the hands and speed he possesses, Jacob could be a real threat in red-zone and third down situations. While watching his film, it’s easy to see a young Devin Funchess in the making.
Jacob is ranked as a 3* recruit and the #20 tight end in the 2016 recruiting cycle. He holds scholarship offers from; Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Stanford, Georgia, Missouri, and Boston College. At this point in his recruitment he is considered a Florida “lean.”
*Note- List is in order of likeliness to commit to Michigan, not based upon rankings
2016 Safety Cameron Lewis committed to LSU on Thursday morning. Michigan offered him a scholarship in early February.
2016 WR Ahmir Mitchell released his Top 6 schools late last Friday night, with Michigan making the cut. Ahmir was offered a scholarship by Brady Hoke’s coaching staff to play Safety, but the new regime likes him better as a receiver.
On Wednesday, I exchanged a few messages with 2017 QB Jake Allen. Allen told me that he really wants Michigan to offer him in the future, and that it would be a “dream” to play for the Maize and Blue.
The coaching staff sent out more “Photo-shopped” edits to recruits this week, and by far the one that stands out most is the one sent to 2016 4* QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Michigan’s edit game is very impressive to say the least.