Wednesday, August 22, 2012
2012 Positional Breakdown: Tight End
There is no definite starter for September 1st against Alabama, and incoming 2012 recruits are holding their own in fall practices as they battle for playing time. However, the vibe surrounding the program right now is that RS Senior Brandon Moore will be the starter to open up this season. Backing him up as a returner will probably be Mike Kwiatkowski.
Brandon Moore is finally getting his shot for the Michigan Wolverines this season as a fifth year senior. Moore has the spent that last couple of years backing up players like Kevin Koger, who easily had his position locked down. However, Brandon has spent his career preparing for this opportunity, and he is finally going to get it.
Throughout his career, Moore has been known to pretty much keep to himself, never getting very wired in pressure situations or getting routy in the huddle. He acquired the nickname "Sleepy" for his teammates a while back for that unique football personality he brings. The coaching staff has been very pleased with his work ethic all year, and it has translated into a giant leap of ability and impact on the field.
This will be the first season Moore gets to see consistent action for the Wolverines. In 2011, he only caught one pass in 11 games. Moore's one other catch in his career came in 2009. This will be a huge adjustment for the fifth year senior, but he is one of the leaders of this team and keeps a high standard set for himself.
The odds of Kwiatkowski actually backing up Moore this year are not that great because of the young talent coming in from the 2012 recruiting class. However, he is considered to be competing for some playing time and is technically the next best thing for the Wolverines right now.
As is the case for every Tight End on Michigan's roster, there is very little game experience to show for his time with the program, which brings up the usual question of how his progress will be translated against opponents. If/When we see Mike on the field this season, we can find at least some comfort in the fact that, physically, he can compete with just about anyone in the nation. His blocking ability is questionable at best, and he doesn't have the greatest hands. But he has pretty good size, strength, and speed.
Ricardo Miller is an interesting story for the Wolverines. He started his career as a wide receiver, moved to tight end, and now finds himself back in the receiver position. However, Miller will be an available option for Brady Hoke at Tight End this season, if need be.
I sound like a broken record, but Miller is yet another roster player who has seen very little time on the field for the Wolverines and is not a proven player at Tight End. However, his versatility could come in useful, as he has the hands for a wide receiver and the body for blocking on the line as a tight end. We likely won't see Miller anywhere but Wide Receiver this year, but he is an option at Tight End.
Michigan will be bringing in two tight ends in its 2012 recruiting class. Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams. They couldn't be more different. Funchess is an electric tight end, playing more like a wide receiver than a traditional tight end or lineman. Williams is a bigger guy who has the primary role of blocking. He can catch as well, but he doesn't have the same speed or passing threat as Funchess.
Opinions are mixed on whether either of these players will receive playing time in 2012. It seems unlikely that both will play, but there have been rumors that Funchcess will be getting some early playing time in more a wide receiver role. With Michigan's lack of depth at wide receiver, this wouldn't be that surprising. However, he is pretty small and size and strength will both be issues, especially in the 2012 season.
If the coaches plan on using Funchess in this role, Williams seems likely to be headed for a redshirt, unless some of the players listed above can't produce. Since he is the blocker of the 2012 recruits, it would seem more logical to get him the extra size of the redshirt rather than Funchess. Either way, the role of these guys and playing time will be up in the air.
Overall, this will probably be a weaker position for Michigan in 2012. There are a few guys that appear like they could be answers like Moore and Funchess, but it will be a major question mark since both are unproven. ALong with this, can either of them do more than one thing on the field? Funchess doesn't seem likely to be blocking so will the defense use him as a cue for passing plays? No one can be sure yet, but if Michigan wants to continue to move to the pro system in 2012, getting some tight end production will be key, especially given the weakness at wide receiver.