Editor’s note: This is part seven of 10 positional previews on the Michigan football team entering the 2014 season. Check out our other previews here.
By RICKY LINDSAY, Sports Editor
Devin Funchess’ transplant from tight end to receiver is completed, but come midseason, Michigan’s tight end position should consist of solid playmakers.
Sophomore Jake Butt tore his ACL during winter conditioning workouts, but likely won’t miss longer than a fourth of the season. A.J. Williams returns for his junior season and is joined by freshman Khalid Hill. Keith Heitzman shifted from the defensive line to tight end, a position he played at Hilliard (Ohio) Davidson High School.
In the seventh of 10 positional previews on the Michigan football team, Ricky Lindsay takes a peek at the Wolverines’ tight ends.
Although Butt will miss a few games while recovering from his injury, he remains threat in Michigan’s offensive scheme when he is on the field. He hauled in 20 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns in 2013, earning a spot on ESPN.com’s All-Big Ten Freshmen Team.
With Michigan eyeing a two tight-end set under Doug Nussmeier, I expect Butt to have a breakout season. No longer does he have to compete for playing time with Funchess. And having both players line up on the field will be oodles of fun for those watching.
Williams is more known for his blocking abilities than pass catching, which can be key in Michigan’s new setup. His only reception in two years at Michigan was for a touchdown that came against Iowa last season.
A standout at Crockett Tech High School in Detroit, Mich., Hill came to Michigan with a logjam at his position. After redshirting last fall, the redshirt freshman will have a chance to impact the Wolverines offense with a thin tight end group. Hill grabbed 29 catches for 448 yards and six touchdowns as a senior at Crockett.
After starting seven games on defense for Michigan last fall, Heitzman was dealt the task of a position change. The redshirt junior played has not lined up at tight end since his high school days, but that will change this fall.
Heitzman shifted to tight end this spring, not only to provide depth to a position in need of it, but to revitalize his collegiate career. Though appearing in 24 games over the past two seasons, he has totaled only 15 tackles, with two-thirds being assisted.
Depth/reserves: Michael Jocz, Ian Bunting (redshirt expected).