Michigan Wolverines: Jaron Dukes

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.
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.

State of the Rivalry: Wide receivers 

February, 20, 2013
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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.


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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.”

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The final ESPN150/300 rankings and class rankings were released on Thursday. A Michigan class that started out the 2013 teams rankings at No. 1 slipped again, mostly do to a precipitous drop for one prospect.

But the news wasn’t all bad, as one of the five offensive line commits in the class made a nice move up the charts.


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Depth chart analysis: WR 

January, 9, 2013
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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.

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Season analysis: WRs/TEs 

November, 29, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan will continue its streak of not having a 1,000-yard receiver this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Wolverines have struggled at the position.

While Mario Manningham was Michigan’s last 1,000-yard receiver in 2007 (1,174 yards), Michigan has seen inconsistent, but increased, production from receivers this season over last year.

Considering Michigan’s transition from a spread to a pro-style offense, that could be deemed as progress at a position where there were major questions entering the season.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Michigan commit Jaron Dukes (Columbus, Ohio/Marion-Franklin) wants to get back up to Ann Arbor. But not with fuel prices as high as they are.

"Whenever somebody puts some gas in my car," a laughing Dukes said about when he'll be at Michigan next. "It's kind of hard."

Dukes' season and career at Marion-Franklin ended last weekend, however, opening up Dukes' schedule a little more. It's not that he hasn't been trying to get to Michigan.

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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.

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Erik MagnusonTom Hauck for ESPN.comBy 2014, Erik Magnuson will be a third-year sophomore and in perfect position to grab one of the starting spots at tackle.

It’s always fun to look into the future and guess where players will be after the next few seasons. So Tom VanHaaren and Chantel Jennings decided to sit down and do their best to produce the depth chart for the beginning of the 2014 season. They aren’t coaches, nor are they scouts, but this is an educated guess at what could happen over the next few seasons.

2014 DEPTH CHART:

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WolverineNation Roundtable 

April, 5, 2012
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Kenny DemensLon Horwedel/Icon SMICan MLB Kenny Demens become the vocal leader of the defense?
In the weekly WolverineNation roundtable, Tom Van Haaren, Mike Rothstein and Chantel Jennings discuss three pertinent issues surrounding Michigan sports. This week, they look at the Michigan football offseason, 2012 basketball recruits and a few of the 2013 football recruits.

1.) Which defensive player on the Michigan football team will benefit most from this offseason?

Tom Van Haaren: I know the obvious answer here is Will Campbell, but I think it might be Blake Countess. Coming off a stellar freshman season, this gives Countess an opportunity to be coached up and really work on his fundamentals and technique. Knowing that he's most likely the starter at corner, he'll be getting good reps and for the defense's sake, improving on what he did last season.

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WR Laquon Treadwell update 

March, 20, 2012
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Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) is one of the top 2013 wide receivers in the country. He boasts offers from Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma and Michigan, among others. For many of the schools looking at him, he has met the coaching staff, met the players and been to games, but what he's really looking forward to now is seeing spring practices.

"It's a big factor," Treadwell said. "You can learn a lot from practice. If practice isn't really intense and they don't push themselves then that's probably not the school I want to go to."

Even though Treadwell already has visited Ann Arbor four times, he will make his fifth visit during the first week in April to see a spring practice.

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Even though he comes from a family of Michigan State fans -- his father is an alum and his grandfather lives in East Lansing -- 2013 wide receiver Zach Bradshaw (Damascus, Md./Damascus) isn’t shy to say that Michigan is a top school for him after a visit to campus on Saturday.

"It's kind of strange going and checking out [MSU’s] arch rival," Bradshaw said. "But I liked everything I saw. The coaches were great. The facilities were great. They had a good academic building for the athletes. I was really impressed by everything."

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver had a chance to meet the entire coaching staff and have sit downs with offensive coordinator Al Borges and coach Brady Hoke.

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2013 WR Devon Allen update 

March, 14, 2012
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Devon AllenMiller Safrit/ESPN.comDevon Allen is intrigued as much by Michigan's academic reputation as its football credentials.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Wide receiver Devon Allen heard about Michigan as a college choice before he ever considered it as a football program. He excels in academics as a junior at the prestigious Brophy Prep School in Phoenix, and his high school pushes its students to attend top universities like Michigan.

"There are a bunch of kids at my school, which is one of the best schools in the nation, that are thinking about going there," said Allen, who would like to study engineering. "It's one of the big things for me. My dad has instilled that in me."

But it didn't take long for athletic achievements to catch up to his academic achievements.

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