By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
Take a look at Michigan’s tight ends and fullbacks; you’ll be seeing them more than usual this season.
The positions are crucial cogs in first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense.
In the fourth of nine position previews on the Michigan football team before the 2015 season, Editor-in-Chief Ricky Lindsay breaks down the tight ends and fullbacks vying for playing time.
After two years in Devin Funchess’ shadows, Jake Butt is cleared for liftoff.
The junior tight end has an excellent shot of being Michigan’s leading receiver this season in Harbaugh’s offense, which focuses on tight ends.
Butt made a remarkable recovery after tearing his ACL in February 2014, totaling 21 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.
Harbaugh knows a good tight end when he sees one. He coached Coby Fleener at Stanford, who is currently a tight end for the Indianapolis Colts.
But the 6-foot-6, 248-pound Butt could take the cake.
“I think Jake Butt is as good a prospect as any we’ve coached at the college level,” Harbaugh said at Michigan’s media day.
Senior A.J. Williams and redshirt sophomore Khalid Hill should provide impact as blockers in the run game.
Williams did not catch a pass during his senior year of high school and has totaled five receptions in three years at Michigan, whereas Hill has experience as a pass catcher.
Ian Bunting is able to play after redshirting last season, but his role in the offense remains to be seen. He has the size (6-foot-7, 243-pounds) to make an impact at tight end should Harbaugh opt for him.
Depth: Chase Winovich, redshirt freshman (moves from linebacker); Henry Poggi, redshirt sophomore (moves from defensive end); Tyrone Wheatley Jr., freshman
Underutilized by past regimes, fullbacks will see action this season under Harbaugh.
Fifth-year senior Joe Kerridge was Michigan’s main source of production at the position last season. Playing in all 12 games, he totaled 56 rushing yards on three plays and caught six passes for 53 yards.
Besides Kerridge, senior Sioune Houma is the lone fullback on Michigan’s roster that played last season.
If Wyatt Shallman is flexed from running back to fullback, he could provide extra depth.
Harbaugh and Michigan are in good hands with Butt and Kerridge leading their respective positions.
Butt is poised for a big year anchoring the offense. Kerridge’s role should increase with Harbaugh at the helm.
Though either player gets injured, especially Butt, things won’t be pretty.
Williams and Hill have their talents, but they are no Butt. And Houma doesn’t have the experience Kerridge boasts.