Michigan Wolverines: Khalid Hill

The loss of freshman tight end Jake Butt to an ACL injury suffered during winter conditioning is obviously a huge blow to the Wolverines.

It hurts not only from a production standpoint, but it's a big disappointment for a young player who showed such potential in 2013.

[+] EnlargeJake Butt
AP Photo/Tony DingMichigan will look for other options to replace Jake Butt's productivity (20 receptions, 235 yards and two TDs).
Butt’s diagnosis marks the ninth ACL injury during coach Brady Hoke’s tenure at Michigan. The most impressive recovery came from linebacker Jake Ryan, who returned in six months, coming back midway through this past season. Players such as quarterback Russell Bellomy and offensive lineman Joey Burzynski have yet to play in a game after suffering their injuries. But cornerback Blake Countess and defensive lineman Chris Wormley both made solid recoveries as well.

That number (average of three per season under Hoke) seems quite high. Following running back Drake Johnson’s ACL tear, which happened in early September, Hoke said that there would be a self-assessment among the coaching staff. The general thought was that, essentially, sometimes these things just happen. It could be just bad luck.

“You know, I'm sure we'll look at it, but with Drake's -- he gets pushed in the back a little bit, he's busting his butt trying to make a tackle, guy kind of pushed him in the back. I mean, those things -- I don't know what else you can do about it,” Hoke said on Sept. 2. “But we will, because I know our strength coach and I know our training staff. They'll get their heads together on it.”

Outside of the larger issue of ACL injuries under Hoke, the Wolverines will regroup and try to figure out how to address this from a tight end production level.

Devin Funchess is still around and will lead the way at the position. He was the team’s second-leading receiver last season with 49 catches for 748 yards and six touchdowns.

Butt had been the third-leading receiver with 20 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns. However, outside of Funchess and Butt, the only other Michigan tight end to appear on the stat sheet was A.J. Williams (one catch).

So Michigan will dive into its depth now to find players who can block, catch and possibly do both. Williams is more of a blocking tight end, and while Funchess has progressed a bit in that category, he is obviously more talented as a pass-catching TE.

The Wolverines have other options, but are limited in experience.

Redshirt junior Dylan Esterline and redshirt freshman Michael Jocz both appeared in one game last fall. Freshman Khalid Hill redshirted, and redshirt junior Jordan Paskorz was a name that was mentioned during bowl season and during Williams’ one-game suspension. Paskorz played in seven games and recorded one start.

Michigan signed one tight end in the 2014 class, Ian Bunting. He has the height factor at 6-foot-6 and with experience in basketball and volleyball, he should be productive.

Another option would be early enrollee/linebacker Michael Ferns. Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier actually offered Ferns as a tight end at Alabama, so he clearly saw his potential.

Nussmeier should be able to find players to get some reps. And with six-and-a-half months until the season starts, it’s not completely outlandish to say that Butt could return before or during the Big Ten schedule. However, he is eligible for a medical redshirt, and with the ACL issues Michigan has had, it might want to give the young player a longer time to recover and make sure he doesn’t do any long-term damage.

Regardless, spring camp starts in less than two weeks and Nussmeier and Hoke, who already had their work cut out for them with this Michigan offense, were just given another challenge on top of that by losing Butt.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan had several areas of need in the 2014 class, chief among them being quarterback and linebacker, largely due to injuries both position groups have suffered. Here’s a look at the top five areas of need and what Michigan has done to address them so far.

Fresh ideas: Tight end 

June, 14, 2013
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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.

What it takes for a true freshman tight end to play

This is one of the more difficult spots for freshmen to play because of the complexities of both learning how to run routes as well as block -- both solo and in tandem -- all within a few months of arriving on campus.

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WolverineNation Roundtable 

March, 21, 2013
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Every Thursday our writers debate and discuss three issues surrounding the Wolverines. Today, they look at kids who would’ve benefited from an early enrollment, some March Madness and some under-the-radar 2014 prospects.

1) Which 2013 signee who didn't enroll early would've benefited the most from doing so?


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2014 Michigan TE targets 

February, 21, 2013
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The 2012 and 2013 classes account for all four of the scholarship tight ends on Michigan’s roster. Moving to a more pro-style offense, the Wolverines will look to pick up more tight ends and will target the best in the 2014 class who can fit into their group, bringing depth and the possibility of early playing time.

Here’s a look at some of those targets for the 2014 class:


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Al Borges has fought an uphill battle. With old game film and an offense on the field only slightly resembling what he hopes is the end product, he has somehow made offensive recruiting work for Michigan.

For the Wolverines the past two years was a “yes, we’re recruiting you to play in a pro-style offense, but we can’t really show you that right now.” So Borges had to reach into the vaults and rely on game film from teams he coached who didn’t wear the winged helmet to show top prospects what they’d have the chance to be a part of at Michigan.


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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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Depth chart analysis: Tight end 

January, 10, 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 heading into the offseason.

If any position sees an uptick in production next season, it will be Michigan’s tight ends. While the group saw more time this season than any of the prior four, as the Wolverines transition into a full-on pro style offense, they will be relied upon every play to do something, be it block or run routes.

It is a group, though, which still needs more bodies as well as more experience to be what Michigan will truly be looking for at the position as things continue to evolve.


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2014 DB works to move offer needle 

December, 14, 2012
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- 2014 defensive back Tim Cason (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) knew the missing ingredient that would turn up the heat on his recruitment.

He already held offers from Toledo and Bowling Green and had interest from Ball State, Michigan State, Indiana, Nebraska and Michigan. But his recruitment hadn’t exploded like other kids from the Detroit metro area.

[+] EnlargeTim Cason
Chantel Jennings/ESPN.comTim Cason believes playing with MaxEx this offseason should boost his offer list.
So when he was contacted about trying out for the MaxEx 7-on-7 team, Cason jumped at the chance. It was the team that Michigan commits Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), Jourdan Lewis (Detroit/Cass Tech), Csont’e York (Harper Woods, Mich./Chandler Park Academy) and Khalid Hill (Detroit/East English Village Prep) had played for. Teo Redding (Detroit/Consortium College Prep) was committed to Central Michigan. And the list went on with others who held big offers.

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2014 DB Rico Lewis keeps tabs on U-M 

October, 2, 2012
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Michigan found an under-the-radar prospect early on in 2013 tight end commit Khalid Hill (Detroit/East English Village). The coaching staff saw something it liked, offered, and Hill committed. There's a chance the Wolverines could have the same type of success with one of Hill's teammates, 2014 defensive back Rico Lewis.

"Michigan is my No. 1 school," he said. "I like the tradition and the program itself, and if they offered it would be hard to pass up."

Lewis doesn't hold any offers, but he has been in contact with a few schools early on.

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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."

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WolverineNation Roundtable 

August, 23, 2012
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Denard RobinsonDerick E. Hingle/US PresswireDoes Denard Robinson have a Heisman run in him? Our writers discuss.
Every Thursday, Tom, Mike and Chantel will discuss three issues in and around Michigan sports. This week, they consider a Heisman run for a certain quarterback and the potential of some 2013 commits.

1. Quarterback Denard Robinson seems to be on pretty much every preseason award list, but most pale in comparison to the talk of whether Robinson can win the Heisman. Do you think he wins it this season? If not, will he be a finalist?

Michael Rothstein: No and no. Nothing against Robinson, but there are a multitude of reasons he won't be holding the trophy he was captured emulating during a play against Notre Dame two seasons ago. Part of it has to do with what he has already accomplished. Heisman voters -- and I used to be one -- are an interesting bunch, and Robinson would likely have to top his accomplishments of the last two seasons to win the award. Plus, the Heisman often goes to a player -- Robert Griffin III was an exception -- on a team at least in a BCS bowl if not the national championship game. In other words, his team needs to win. Big. And I don't know if Michigan does that this season. It's not impossible for him to become a finalist or even win the Heisman, but he'd likely have to break Pat White's rushing record and lead Michigan to at least 10 wins and a Big Ten championship game appearance for him to reach New York.

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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).

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Top camp performers: Offense 

June, 22, 2012
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After three-plus days of football, WolverineNation breaks down which players they believed to be the top performers in each position group at the Michigan football camp. Here are their offensive picks, in no particular order:

QUARTERBACKS:

  • 2013 Shane Morris (commit) -- He looked great running drills. Had good accuracy throughout the day, though he threw a few balls that were still too fast for his receivers to catch.

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Sound Mind Sound Body camp on tap

June, 11, 2012
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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.

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