Michigan Wolverines: Csont'e York

Michigan spring wrap

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
9:00
AM ET
The spring workouts are in the books and the long offseason has arrived. But before diving into summer and the painful wait for football to return, we're taking a look back at the developments from March and April and sneaking a peek at what to expect in the fall for Michigan.

Three things we learned in the spring

  • Front seven, front and center: The Wolverines didn't stand pat on defense this offseason. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is now coaching the linebackers, while Mark Smith moved down to take over the defensive line. They also shuffled their linebackers, switching Jake Ryan to the middle and emerging star James Ross III to the strong side. The moves seemed to work out well this spring, with Ryan looking like his old playmaking self a year removed from ACL surgery. The defensive line could be one of the team's strengths, led by senior defensive ends Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer and improving youngsters Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley and Willie Henry. Mattison wants to blitz more this season and hopes the defensive line can get more pressure on its own.
  • Early enrollees, immediate impact: When players skip the final half of their high school senior years to enroll in college in January, the hope is that they will be more advanced than most freshmen. Wide receiver Freddy Canteen and offensive lineman Mason Cole exceeded those expectations. Both impressed the coaching staff right away, with Canteen drawing raves and Cole getting a lot of first-team reps at left tackle. Both were with the starting unit during the spring game and figure to have roles on the team this fall.
  • More QB clarity: Brady Hoke talked of a quarterback competition this spring, and Devin Gardner wasn't originally expected to do a whole lot while recovering from a broken foot. But Gardner surprised the coaches by fulling participating in all 15 spring practices and asserting his hold on the position. Hoke said Shane Morris closed the gap a bit on Gardner and that the competition would continue. But even though Gardner didn't play well in the spring game, it's pretty clear that this remains his team.
Three questions for the fall

  • Can O-line be less offensive?: New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has brought a simplified blocking scheme and a focus on running downhill. Players said there were times this spring when that was effective. But concerns about the youth and chemistry on the line remain, and not just because of another shaky performance in the spring game. When a mid-year enrollee (Cole) is starting at left tackle, that raises serious red flags. The return of Erik Magnuson and Joey Burzynski from injury and Graham Glasgow from his one-game suspension will help the experience and talent level. But for now, the line is full of young, unproven players who must find a way to raise their games between now and late August.
  • Skill position suspense: With Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo graduated, Devin Funchess is the only returning receiver with more than 15 career catches. Canteen's emergence provided another option at the position, but a lot of question marks remain at wideout. Michigan is hoping Jehu Chesson, Csont'e York, Da'Mario Jones and Dennis Norfleet step forward, Amara Darboh successfully returns from injury and freshman Drake Harris can contribute. But there are few sure things. At running back, the team is hopeful that Derrick Green breaks out as a sophomore and De'Veon Smith joins him for a powerful duo. Again, though, it's mostly optimism and little track record at this point.
  • Enough leadership? Hoke has suggested that he wasn't thrilled with the leadership during last season's 7-5 team. He and the players have said that the chemistry and accountability have been good this spring. The fact remains, however, that this team has only 12 seniors, and only seven of them are position players who see the field a lot. Leadership will also have to come from the junior class and elsewhere if Michigan wants to get over the hump of mediocrity.
One way-too-early prediction

Jabrill Peppers immediately becomes the team's best defensive back. That's a bold call, as Peppers isn't even on campus yet. But he was the No. 2 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 for a reason, and he should be the kind of physical, cover corner that Michigan has lacked. The Wolverines could try him in several different positions, but if he's the real deal, he can start quickly at cornerback. Program insiders believe his ceiling could be in the Charles Woodson neighborhood. No pressure, kid.
With the graduation of Jeremy Gallon alone, Michigan lost nearly 43 percent of its receiving yardage and 27 percent of its receptions. Add Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds’ contributions to those statistics and the Wolverines are looking to replace more than half of their receiving yardage from last season.

That’s no small feat and that means several reps and opportunities are open for younger guys to step up. Devin Funchess and Jake Butt return at tight end and will be targeted more as they gain chemistry with Devin Gardner and Shane Morris.

But as far as pure wide receivers go, the Wolverines are going to have to reach into the freshmen and sophomore classes next season as they look for production.

And wide receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski may not need to look any further than the 2014 class, which signed one receiver on Wednesday and had two early enroll in January.

Both Drake Harris and Freddy Canteen are on campus and will participate in spring practices. Maurice Ways, who signed his letter of intent on Wednesday, will enroll this fall.

Hecklinski said he sees a lot of athletic ability in all three wide receivers in the 2014 class. Specifically, Hecklinski pointed out Harris’ ball skills, which were helped by his basketball background. Harris had initially wanted to play both basketball and football in college, committing to Michigan State in June 2013 to do so. He later backed off that commitment, deciding to focus on football. Michigan believes it can use Harris as an X-receiver in a similar way that the Wolverines used Gallon this past season.

Canteen has a lot of speed in the open field and quickness off the ball. Because of his versatility, coaches believe they could use him at the Z-receiver, X-receiver or slot. And Ways, who comes in with a chip on his shoulder after being under-recruited, has a lot of size. At 6-foot-4, 193 pounds, Ways is the biggest WR in the 2014 class and because of his vertical-threat ability he’s projected as a Z-receiver.

It was the second consecutive class with three wide receiver signees. In the 2013 class the Wolverines signed Jaron Dukes, Da’Mario Jones and Csont’e York.

Jones played on special teams and York played in one game as a backup wide receiver, so they will both be sophomores during the 2014-15 season. Dukes redshirted and will still have four years of eligibility remaining.

“I think when you look at last year’s class and the three we added and you look at this year’s class and the three that we added, they’re different,” Hecklinski said. “You don’t want carbon copies of each other out there because then you get tied in to having just one guy.”

While those six will definitely be in the running for playing time, the two who seem to have the biggest jump will be Amara Darboh, who’s coming off a foot injury, and Jehu Chesson, who caught 15 passes this season for 221 yards and a touchdown.

Regardless, there are a lot of catches that are up for grabs and with two early enrollees in the 2014 class and one of the biggest wide receivers on the entire roster enrolling this fall, there’s a decent chance a true freshman receiver could hit the field.

“I think all three complement [one another],” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “And I know that all three of them, we were very excited to have.”
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After quarterback Devin Gardner tweeted an impressive one-handed catch from Amara Darboh and a good spring game performance from the wide receiver, fans couldn’t wait to see Darboh hit the field in Michigan Stadium this fall.

[+] EnlargeJehu Chesson
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesWith Amara Darboh out, Jehu Chesson's size and speed might find him more playing time this fall.
But on Tuesday, Michigan coach Brady Hoke announced that Darboh had gotten “banged up a little bit” in Saturday night’s scrimmage and by Wednesday, the news had gotten quite a bit worse.

Now fans will have to wait another season to see that potential as the school announced Wednesday that Darboh would miss the 2013 season with a foot injury that would require surgery.

With the injury, Michigan is in a bit of a bind. Though Darboh didn’t register any catches last season and mainly just played special teams, he did have game-time experience, which is a huge factor when throwing players into the fire. He had been an expected starter (Hoke actually referred to him as such in the press release) and Gardner spent much of his time in the offseason building chemistry with Darboh.

But there are options at wide receiver for the Wolverines.

Gardner still has security blankets in redshirt senior Jeremy Gallon and senior Drew Dileo, though neither really fits the mold for what Al Borges wants in a big, rangey, downfield target. Neither is above 5-foot-10 and while both have proven effective for Michigan, they really don’t have the same skill set as Darboh.

Michigan’s likely option will be redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson, the 6-foot-3 former track star whose speed has impressed. Redshirt senior Joe Reynolds has had a nice fall camp as well, and at 6-foot-1 he could be a bigger target for Gardner.

The injury might also mean Wolverines have to burn some redshirts. In their 2013 class they have three wide receivers who are at least 6-foot-3 -- Csont’e York, Da’Mario Jones and Jaron Dukes. Michigan does require its wide receivers to block which many have said takes a lot of time to learn, but if any of these three could pick up blocking more quickly, they could have the chance to see the field this fall.

Considering the nonconference schedule, though Notre Dame’s secondary returns several players, Michigan will still have a bit of time to get younger or less experienced wide receivers into the swing of things.

But with Darboh being missing the season, it definitely leaves the Wolverines receiving corps feeling banged up as well.

Fresh ideas: Wide receivers 

June, 7, 2013
6/07/13
10:30
AM ET
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Can a true freshman really contribute at the college level? Is it easier to do so at one position than another? Over the coming weeks WolverineNation will be breaking down the probabilities of playing time and projections of the Wolverines’ freshmen, position by position.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Spring practice has ended for Michigan and for the first time, the depth chart for the fall is beginning to take shape.

Yes, there will still be some big competitions on Michigan’s offense -- particularly at running back and wide receiver -- but there is now a better idea of who the Wolverines’ starting 11 will be in August when they open the season against Central Michigan.

WolverineNation takes a two-day look at what Michigan’s depth chart will be come fall, starting with the offense.

Quarterback

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

State of the Rivalry: Wide receivers 

February, 20, 2013
2/20/13
8:30
AM ET
The writers at WolverineNation and BuckeyeNation put their heads together to break down the rivals’ 2013 classes. Position-by-position, they’ll give you a look at who Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer brought in and, ultimately, which class edged out the other. It’s too early to say what will happen over the next few seasons, and we won’t make any promises except that Hoke and Meyer are going to put talent on the field.

[+] EnlargeDontre Wilson
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Dontre Wilson's playmaking abilities will make him a dangerous weapon in the OSU offense.
Ohio State got: If there was ever a position where Urban Meyer proved he was one of the best closers in the game, it is the wide receiver position. The Buckeyes headed into the last week of recruiting with just Taivon Jacobs (Forestville, Md./Suitland) and Jalin Marshall (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown) in the fold. Meyer picked up junior college standout and former Akron (Ohio) Buchtel star Corey Smith (East Mississippi Community College) first before really closing the door. Dontre Wilson (Desoto, Texas/Desoto) was next to commit with James Clark (New Smyrna Beach, Fla./New Smyrna Beach) wrapping things up as a signing day special. It left no room for Jacobs, who stayed home to play with his brother at Maryland. What it also did was give the Buckeyes three four-star commitments in the final week and rounded out a position of strength that has four four-star signees to help Meyer and his spread offense continue to grow.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There’s no way to look at Michigan’s 2013 class and not believe Brady Hoke when he says he’s putting an emphasis up front.

Not only is it impressive that the Wolverines were able to pull in six offensive line signees, each is big and physical (averaging 6-foot-5, 295 pounds).

“It was very important for us to establish guys who can play at the line of scrimmage the way we want to play Michigan football,” Hoke said. “For the style of football we need to play, I think that was important.”

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Depth chart analysis: WR 

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
10:00
AM ET
Over the next few weeks, WolverineNation will look at every position on the Michigan roster and give a depth chart analysis of each heading into the offseason.

For the second consecutive season, Michigan will enter a football season with some questions as to who, exactly, will catch the ball. Entering the 2012 season, with the graduation of Junior Hemingway, there were some options but few known quantities.

Entering next season, there once again are options, but even fewer players who have had past production on which to make a reliable projection.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

WolverineNation roundtable 

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
11:00
AM ET
Fitzgerald Toussaint Mike Carter/US PresswireCan Michigan end Michigan State's four-game winning streak in the series?
Every Thursday, Tom, Mike and Chantel will discuss three issues in and around Michigan sports. Today, they discuss some bold predictions, Wolverines about to make a leap and under-the-radar prospects.

1.) The Big Ten season is on the horizon, here's your chance to make one bold prediction regarding the Wolverines' conference schedule. What is it? Michael Rothstein: This fits with Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten, actually, but no team in the league finishes with fewer than two losses. The conference itself is mediocre from top to bottom, and frankly, Michigan might still be the best team in the league. It certainly has been tested the most. But as far as the Wolverines go, Michigan's leading tackler this season will not be Jordan Kovacs, but the guy next to him, Thomas Gordon.

Tom Van Haaren: With this conference I don't know if any prediction is really bold. Michigan has a chance, I think, to make it to the Big Ten championship game. The key will most likely be on Oct. 20 when Michigan takes on Michigan State. So my bold prediction will be that Michigan beats Michigan State at home to end the losing streak.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

videoAs a junior, wide receiver Csont'e York (Detroit/Chandler Park Academy) was on a high school team that was known for running the ball. His opportunities to snag passes and score touchdowns were limited, and he didn't have the chance to rack up the stats that garner offers like some of his fellow 2013 Michigan commits.

But out of that came something very, very good. Something that Michigan coach Brady Hoke loves about York. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver learned how to block, block and block some more.

"I wanted to be physical and help the team," York said. "I had to get used to blocking. My coach told me, 'We need you to block all the time. That's how we're going to be successful.' So I did."

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Short list of visitors enjoys big win 

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
9:10
AM ET
The atmosphere inside Michigan Stadium was still lively despite the lack of competition in the Wolverines’ 63-13 rout of Massachusetts. The 110,708 fans in attendance made noise early on, which gave visiting recruits a sample of how exciting the atmosphere can be.

"The atmosphere at Michigan was exciting," 2014 linebacker William White (Detroit/Cass Tech) said. "Seeing the players and parents I have been seeing since I was a child really made it better. Also the fans were very friendly people."

White and classmate Damon Webb, a cornerback, were supposed to take in Michigan State's game against Notre Dame after Michigan’s game. A traffic jam didn't allow them to do that, so the Wolverines inadvertently prevented the Spartans from hosting the top prospects.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The IMG Madden National 7-on-7 Championship runs Friday through Sunday at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. It's an important event that teams across the country have been working to qualify for throughout the year.

Last year's championship was won by a familiar name as Detroit's own Maximum Exposure team took home the trophy. MaxEx gets an automatic bid back to the tournament and it is once again led by Michigan QB commit Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./DeLaSalle).
[+] EnlargeShane Morris
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comShane Morris leads the MaxEx team into the IMG Madden 7-on-7 national tournament this weekend.
MaxEx features three other Wolverines commitments: tight end Khalid Hill (Detroit/Crockett), defensive back Jourdan Lewis (Detroit/Cass Tech) and wide receiver Csont'e York (Detroit/Chandler Park).

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Sound Mind Sound Body camp on tap

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
2:02
PM ET
The adidas Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy will have its usual array of instruction from college coaches to high school prospects looking to make a name for themselves to earn a scholarship and learn both athletic and academic lessons to take with them to college.

This year, the camp running from June 13-14 at Southfield High School in Southfield, Mich., will have a good amount of Michigan commitments as well.

2013 Michigan football commits Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech), Jourdan Lewis (Detroit/Cass Tech), Khalid Hill (Detroit/Cass Tech) and Csont’e York (Harper Woods, Mich./Chandler Park Academy) lead the list of players who are scheduled to participate in the two-day camp.

Among the other committed players are Florida’s Cameron Dillard (Canton, Mich./Canton), Illinois' Kenton Gibbs (Detroit/Cass Tech) as well as Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers) and Steve Elmer (Midland, Mich./Midland).

There are plenty of uncommitted players that are scheduled to attend, including 2013 prospects Jack Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), Poet Thomas (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day), Teo Redding (Warren, Mich./Consortium) and Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland). Among the Class of 2014 participants are Malik McDowell (Detroit/Loyola), Deon Drake (Detroit/Cass Tech), Gary Hosey (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison), William White (Detroit/Cass Tech), Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) and Chance Stewart (Sturgis, Mich./Sturgis). Class of 2015 quarterback prospect Jay’ru Campbell (Detroit/Cass Tech) is also expected to attend.

Spots in the camp still remain and can be purchased here.

New 2013 WR pops up on radar 

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
9:32
AM ET
Some players fly under the radar throughout high school, hardly sending up flares for many college coaches. But many have talent or can be successful.

Aaron Rodgers wasn't heavily recruited. Neither was Terrell Owens, Tony Romo or Clay Matthews.

As a rising senior, Sam Huffman (Lima, Ohio/Central Catholic) has been flying under the radar. The 2013 wide receiver hasn't received any offers yet, and is mainly hearing from MAC and Ivy League programs.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Michigan lands commit No. 18 

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
5:24
PM ET
Michigan added another commitment to the fold on Wednesday as wide receiver Csont'e York (Detroit/Chandler Park Academy) decided to join the Wolverines.

The under-the-radar wideout just received an offer from the Michigan coaching staff on his visit Tuesday and decided that it was time to pull the trigger. On the visit York said that he wasn't expecting the offer and came away impressed.

"I was shocked (when they offered). The head coach told me I was offered and it was great," he said. "I loved their facilities, the education and the coaches there are really genuine. They're not stiff, and it was great."

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Drive Through: Big Ten Preview
VIDEO PLAYLIST video