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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Five to watch in spring: Darboh & Chesson

By Michael Rothstein

Over the next week, WolverineNation will give a brief look at five players to keep an eye on during spring practice for varying reasons.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For the time being, Michigan has a wide receiver problem, more so than a season ago when the question of who would replace Junior Hemingway was a big one in Michigan’s offense.

Now, the Wolverines are even more inexperienced than a year ago. Roy Roundtree’s graduation leaves a massive hole opposite likely No. 1-receiver Jeremy Gallon and with no obvious complement as a tall receiver to the more diminutive Gallon, it is a wide open spot.

Amara Darboh
WR Amara Darboh has a chance to earn plenty of playing time in 2013.
And one Michigan has two potential candidates to slide into. Sophomore Amara Darboh played sparingly, mostly on special teams, last season. Redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson was a scout team star and someone multiple graduated seniors have pointed to as a potential playmaker in the future.

One of them could be Michigan’s starter in the fall. The spring is the time for them to separate themselves from the rest, making them the combined No. 4 player to watch this spring.

Why Darboh and Chesson? It starts with height. Michigan, through its recruiting targets and offensive philosophy shift, is starting to target taller receivers. Both Darboh and Chesson are 6-foot-2 or taller and besides having height on their side have good talent. Chesson has sprinter’s speed in track and Darboh has shown flashes in practice of having exceptional ball skills. With the rest of Michigan’s receiving corps having already had opportunities to show their skills, this is their time to try and separate before three freshmen arrive in the fall.

What do they have to accomplish? Show consistency running routes and blocking along with a rapport with quarterback Devin Gardner. Neither one needs to become an elite receiver this season -- Gallon will be a main target and Drew Dileo will still occupy the slot -- but Michigan could use a tall target in the red zone besides tight end Devin Funchess. The blocking might be the biggest key here because it is the toughest thing for receivers to pick up from high school to college and a vital part of what Michigan tries to do and ask of its receivers offensively. While this position battle won’t be as important to Michigan as its revamping of the offensive line or the running back free-for-all that will take place in the fall, it is an important piece of what the Wolverines hope to do in the pro style offense this season.