2016 Season Countdown: #30 Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.

2016 Season Countdown: #30 Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.

August 12, 2016

Tyrone Whealtey, Jr. (image via 247Sports)

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Name: Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 276 lbs.
High school: Buffalo (NY) Canisius
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #8
Last year: I ranked Wheatley #57 and said he would be a backup tight end (LINK). He redshirted.

I had the notion last season that Wheatley would play last season as a backup or complement to A.J. Williams, who had struggled for his first three seasons on campus. I should have known better about Williams, because Jim Harbaugh and his staff know how to coach tight ends. Williams improved as both a blocker and receiver, and Wheatley was able to redshirt. That may have been a good thing, because he was a little too bulked up last season (286 lbs.) and used the time to chisel himself into better shape.

This spring the most impressive play we saw from Wheatley was a long catch-and-run at Ford Field where he stabbed a pass one-handed against good coverage from Devin Bush, Jr. That showed his soft hands and ability to run. He also held his own as a blocker against some very good defensive linemen for Michigan. With All-American Jake Butt at tight end, Wheatley may not break out this season to be a star. But I do expect him to start in double-tight sets, and he should be a better receiver than Williams ever was. This appears to be the beginning of the Tight End Revolution in Ann Arbor.

Prediction: Part-time starting tight end


  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 12, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    Bring on the TE revolution!

    I’m excited to see what Wheatley can do. I won’t be fully sold on his blocking until I see it on the field, but he represents a potential prototype for the in-line TE spot.

    I think the rank could be even higher, depending on how ready Asiasi is.

  2. DonAZ
    Comments: 511
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Aug 12, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    At what point do we credit Jay Harbaugh for the TEs? Serious question — it’s easy to say he’s getting benefit of more senior coaches helping him, but it’s very possible he’s just a darn good coach for that position, and the success for the TE position is largely due to him. Any way to really tell?

    FYI — I think Jay Harbaugh is a great addition to the team; at first I raised my eyebrow at the “coach hires his son” thing … but he seems to recruit well, it appears the TE squad has respect for him, and it appears he gets them to improve and produce.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 12, 2016 at 12:22 PM

      I’d give it more than 1 year to decide but I think you have a good point. We couldn’t have asked for more out of the TEs in year 1. Butt was Butt, but the improvement from Williams was notable and the young guys coming along look impressive.

      It will be those freshman and sophomores that will really determine how well Harbaugh is doing. If Bunting and Wheatley play as well as they are hyped. If Asiasi and McKeon and Eubanks look like real players in the next couple years. But perhaps the best litmus test will be if Gentry turns into a starting caliber TE… If so – you will really have to give Jay some credit. And perhaps we may see him hired away from Michigan by the Ravens’ HC in a couple years…

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 1360
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 12, 2016 at 1:05 PM

    As backups go, I’m not convinced that our success this season will depend more on Wheatley than Bush. If it does, it will be more because of his blocking than his pass-catching. We’ve got more in the way of experience and proven production ahead of Wheatley, and don’t really need him to be a big contributor as a receiver (though he may do well in that area).

    Which one being injured and out for the year would concern you more?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3787
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 13, 2016 at 7:04 PM

      Wheatley being out would concern me more. My guess is he’s the most competent blocker of the tight ends, and he’ll start sometimes. I think the linebacker corps could be rejiggered if Bush were hurt, and I don’t know that it would hurt the team much. If Furbush had to move inside to back up McCray or if Gil had to be the #2 WILL or something, I just can’t see there being a really damaging drop-off for the snaps that Bush would get. But they’re right next to each other in the countdown, so it’s pretty neck-and-neck.

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