Name: Kevin Koger
Weight: 255 lbs.
High school: Whitmer High School in Toledo, OH
Position: Tight end
Jersey number: #86
Last year: I ranked Koger #26 and said he wouldn’t get more than 15 receptions. He caught 16 passes for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns.
I can’t tell if Kevin Koger got to Michigan at the wrong time or the right time. On the one hand, if he played for Lloyd Carr, I think we’d be talking about an all-conference level player. Koger has speed and leaping ability, blocks well, and can make excellent catches. Carr would have used him well. On the other hand, Koger is a perfect fit for the spread offense run by Rich Rodriguez. He can get down the seam quickly, pull, block in space, and generally create problems for a defense. The only mitigating factor is that Rodriguez doesn’t use the tight end very much. Despite reports that Rodriguez and his staff had visited Oklahoma’s coaching staff to integrate the tight end more, Koger only caught 16 passes (1.3 receptions per game) and his backups only caught five passes for 63 yards, 47 of which came against Delaware State.
Consider this: the starting tight ends for Wisconsin (Garrett Graham, 51), Northwestern (Drake Dunsmore, 47), Iowa (Tony Moeaki, 41), Minnesota (Nick Tow-Arnett, 37), Penn State (Andrew Quarless, 30), Purdue (Kyle Adams, 29), Michigan State (Charlie Gantt, 22), and Indiana (Max Dedmond, 18) all caught more passes than Koger in 2009. Even Big Ten newcomer Nebraska’s starting tight end caught 28 passes. The only two teams in the Big Ten who used their tight end less were Illinois and Ohio State, but the average number of receptions for a non-Michigan starting tight end in the Big Ten was 29.7, nearly double Koger’s total.
Forgetting about all that, Koger has the ability to be a very good tight end. He averaged 13.8 yards on his receptions last season, and the catch pictured above is one of the most amazing I’ve seen anywhere, let alone from a Michigan player. He did struggle with a case of the dropsies in 2009, and I’m sure he knows that’s an area he must improve. He’s an important part of the team because of his versatility, whether he’s blocking, catching passes, or lining up in the slot and creating mismatches. But with two somewhat inexperienced quarterbacks who are approximately 6′ tall, Koger isn’t likely to see a huge jump in his numbers this year.
Prediction for 2010: Starting tight end; 18 receptions, 250 yards, 4 touchdowns
40% of poll respondents correctly picked Koger at #20.
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