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Name: Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.
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