2018 Season Countdown: #49 Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.

2018 Season Countdown: #49 Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.


July 13, 2018

Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. (image via Pinterest)

Name: Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 276 lbs.
High school: Buffalo (NY) Canisius
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #17
Last year: I ranked Wheatley #18 and said he would be a backup tight end (LINK). He made three starts and caught 3 passes for 26 yards.
TTB Rating: 82

When Wheatley came out of high school a few years ago, many Michigan fans wanted to bulk him up and make him an offensive tackle. I kind of wanted him to play defensive end. Instead, he has stayed at tight end, redshirting his first year and playing sporadic minutes since. He made bookend starts last year against Florida and Ohio State, but there wasn’t a lot of production in the meantime; he had one catch each against Cincinnati, Indiana, and Rutgers. The thing most people expected him to be good – blocking – has not been a strength.

It’s hard to believe Wheatley is a redshirt junior now, but that’s the case. The son of a Michigan all-timer has 6 catches for 61 yards and 1 touchdown in three years on campus. Furthermore, he might not be taking a step forward this season, because Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry look to still be ahead of him, while the only departure (Ian Bunting as a grad transfer to Cal) only had 1 reception last season. There’s no reason to expect Wheatley’s impact to increase this year unless he can improve significantly as a blocker, and both McKeon and Gentry have two years left if they decide to stay. Unless something changes this might be a case where Wheatley gets his degree and finishes his career elsewhere.

Prediction: Backup tight end

12 comments

  1. Comments: 20
    Joined: 11/13/2015
    leftrare
    Jul 13, 2018 at 3:41 PM

    I think this is an underrating. Ty played most of 2017 with a club on his left hand. He is wearing it even in the picture in this post. 2016 he was a RSF behind Butt and Bunting. 2015 he was also hurt.

    I’ve been pulling for him to break out. Crowded field it is, but I still think he’s a good one.

    • Comments: 963
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Jul 13, 2018 at 9:56 PM

      That’s just the case. A ton of potential, but after three straight seasons of injury, he’s been passed up. It’s a tough chore to pick out which of Gentry/McKeon he’d catch up to, which is what it’d take to get much higher on this list
      My guess is, even if one of the two younger TEs get banged up, TWJr will be limited in touches by the Receivers and our two upper classmen RBs

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2614
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 13, 2018 at 11:27 PM

      Is it an underrating for a guy who makes 3 catches per year? A guy who has been the #3 tight end (at best) his whole career? A guy who’s not much of a receiver and might have a freshman or two capable of blocking just as well as him (Hayes, Muhammad)? I just can’t justify ranking him much higher for this team. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. It’s just that the 48 guys remaining will have (in my opinion) a bigger impact on the success of the 2018 season.

      • Comments: 20
        Joined: 11/13/2015
        leftrare
        Jul 14, 2018 at 6:12 PM

        It’s really just me always having liked the kid a lot. Thunder, do you think he would have been better off as an OT or DE?

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2614
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 14, 2018 at 6:48 PM

          I liked him more as a DE.

      • Comments: 20
        Joined: 11/13/2015
        leftrare
        Jul 14, 2018 at 6:14 PM

        Regarding only 3 catches, why would you ever throw to a guy with one hand anyway? The fact that he got a lot of inline snaps is, I think testament to his usefulness and value.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2614
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 14, 2018 at 6:49 PM

          I don’t want to turn this into a Wheatley bashing thread. I’ve said that I don’t think he’s a bad player. IMO, he’s got two guys ahead of him who are better, and I don’t see the point in ranking him above #49. If you think differently, I’m totally okay with that.

          • Comments: 20
            Joined: 11/13/2015
            leftrare
            Jul 15, 2018 at 11:41 AM

            And I am more than ok with your assessment and this whole project. I enjoy the hell out of it. Thanks for doing it.

  2. Comments: 1145
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Jul 15, 2018 at 6:32 AM

    I like our Tight ends four deep, although I’m not forgetting some the bonehead that showed up on Eubanks high school tape. Wheatley has shown some ability to break up the seam and catch the football. I think he’s a legitimate target when not packing a club.

    With all the talk about Michigan spreading the field some this year because of Shea Paterson’s skill set, I think that running a jumbo package that included Wheatley and Mason in there and then spreading Mckeon and/or Gentry out wide would be a very Harbaugh thing to do. One well executed stiff arm could result in a lot of yards.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 253
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Jul 15, 2018 at 11:10 AM

      I think the coaches like the flexibility of TE’s who can both handle in-line duties as well as splitting wide and demanding safety coverage. That is really what creates the bind for DC’s trying to match personnel packages. Wheatley is a solid receiver, but not the mismatch for LB’s in coverage that Mckeon, Gentry, and Eubanks are. And with Mckeon/Gentry becoming solid blockers last year, they are truly dual-threat TE’s. For Wheatley to have a bigger impact, he needs to develop into an Asiasi level blocker, but that is a tall order for a 4th year player.

      • Comments: 1145
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Jul 15, 2018 at 2:58 PM

        Not sure I’d go all the way to solid, but improved for sure. Another round of improved would be a way good thing for our offense.

        • Painter Smurf
          Comments: 253
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          Painter Smurf
          Jul 17, 2018 at 1:13 PM

          I would. They were both above average blockers last year. Gentry really surprised me with his improvement. Frey did a great job with those guys.

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