Michigan Tight End Room Preview

In the 2021 Orange Bowl, Michigan got a showcase in elite tight end play from Brock Bowers and the Georgia offense. Bowers returns next year as the unanimous top-ranked tight end in the country. The Michigan tight end room also has the chance to gain some real attention next year. They return experienced leaders and are adding impressive talent, making them a very solid position group for the Wolverines.

Erick All, All-day

Michigan Tight end Erick All came off a quiet season in 2020 and immediately made his presence known. His talent as a receiver and a blocker made him an integral part of Michigan’s old-school Big Ten-style offense. The team trusted All at critical moments in Michigan’s 2021 season as both a receiver and a blocker. Against Penn State, All caught a pass on a crossing route and ran 47 yards to the end zone. This was the go-ahead touchdown that sealed an elusive road win in Happy Valley for Jim Harbaugh‘s Wolverines.
Against Ohio State, All only had one reception for seven yards. However, his blocking skills were on full display during The Game. With a 14-13 advantage early in the third quarter, Hassan Haskins put his hand on the back of his lead blocker Erick All and followed him 13 yards into the end zone. All plowed through Ohio State’s 205 lbs safety Ronnie Hickman to facilitate the Haskins touchdown. Heading into 2022, Pro Football Focus (PFF) has All as the sixth-ranked returning tight end in the nation. There is no doubt that he will continue to make an impact next year.

Other Veterans in the Mix

Michigan is also returning seniors Luke Schoonmaker and Joel Honigford at tight end. Schoonmaker and Honigford didn’t have as many key plays as All throughout the 2021 season. Still, they did make appearances in Michigan’s bigger games this season. Their presence will continue to be important for Michigan’s offense moving forward. With their current offensive scheme, it is not uncommon for the Wolverines to have multiple tight ends on the field at once. This is where their blocking skills will be very important.
Schoonmaker’s and Honigford’s abilities as receivers should not be ignored. They may have been behind Erick All on the depth chart but the quarterbacks at Michigan still trusted them as reliable targets. Schoonmaker made an amazing one-handed grab at the end of Michigan’s Big Ten Championship win over Iowa that proves he can be a threat in the passing game. Honigford also had a few catches this season, including his first career reception against Nebraska.

Young Talent to Watch For

The Wolverine’s 2022 recruiting class includes two highly ranked tight ends. Colston Loveland and Marlin Klein are two huge guys that the Wolverines are excited to add to their roster. Loveland’s film in particular is supremely impressive. At 6′ 5″ and 230 lbs, the four-star commit looks like a man among boys in his high school film. He appears to be the swiss army knife on his high school team, showing talent as a receiver, blocker, and rusher. After seeing the physical tight end play from Michigan this year, Loveland and Klein should be eager to take on a role in this offense.
There is also a heavy dose of young talent on the coaching staff. The Wolverines are very excited about new tight-end coach Grant Newsome. Newsome was a player at Michigan under Harbaugh not too long ago. He started his career in Ann Arbor as an offensive lineman in 2015, but his time as a player was cut short due to injury. Still, he remained part of the football program and has worked as a graduate assistant for the past few years. Last year, his experience as a lineman was integral in helping the 2021 Michigan offensive line win the Joe Moore Award. There is no doubt that he will be able to use his experience to improve the blocking in the tight end room as well. Harbaugh clearly trusts Newsome and is eager to see his development as a coach continue.

Tight End Utilization in 2022

Harbaugh‘s old-school style of offense takes full advantage of the tight end position. Their love of running the ball relies heavily on the physicality of the offensive line, tight ends, and even wide receivers. However, with offensive coordinator Josh Gattis leaving Michigan for the same position with the Miami Hurricanes, there may be some changes to the offensive scheme. Gattis has been replaced by Matt Weiss and Sherrone Moore, who will split the play-calling responsibilities. Both Weiss and Moore were on Harbaugh’s staff last year as the quarterback’s coach and offensive line coach respectively. With these hires coming from within the program, there is hope for continuity in the offensive scheme moving forward. Michigan will have a stacked group of tight ends next year that can and should be utilized often.