As we torturously wait for the next couple weeks to disappear, finally revealing the beginning of the season that we've waited so long for, I'll be running five opinion pieces on 10 players- 5 RS Freshmen, 5 True Freshmen- that I expect to contribute this fall. I'll be ranking them based on how much I expect them to contribute, then pair them off with their RS/Non-RS equivalent. Today we present number 3.
(Previously on the countdown: Number Five, Number Four)
THE REDSHIRT FRESHMAN
Jehu Chesson- Wide Receiver; 6'3, 196
[EDIT: Wrote this up before Darboh got injured. This means Chesson's likely in for a bigger role this season, perhaps even a starting role. Still don't think his impact will be as noticeable as my top two players, however]
As of right now, it looks like when Michigan brings out any personnel package that includes 3 WRs, we'll see Darboh-Dileo-Gallon. Gallon and Dileo have been solid contributors for a couple of years now, and Darboh brings a certain physicality and experience (although not such a big edge, he didn't redshirt last year) that Chesson lacks. Smart money says Chesson is right behind that trio.
Unfortunately for Jehu, Michigan doesn't run a whole lot of 4-WR sets, probably since their starting TE is sorta kinda already a WR. Nonetheless, Wide Receivers often get spelled for a series at a time, and Chesson should be the next man up. When Gallon, Dileo, Jackson, and Reynolds all leave after this season, he should be primed for a huge role.
Jake Butt- Tight End; 6'6, 237
Speaking of receiving targets, Jake Butt! At 237, Butt is already bigger than Funchess, so size shouldn't be a mitigating factor here. The coaches brought Butt in to play early and often, providing another edge to the offense to further engage WHIPSAW status. Butt's recruiting profile suggests he should eventually end up as some sort of crossover between AJ Williams and Funchess, but that'll only happen once he adds more weight and blocking technique. For now, his value will come from adding another big red-zone target, as he showed off in the spring game.
Thomas Gordon isn't exactly your prototypical safety thumper, but it should be noted that Butt didn't seem remotely affected by his hit. Give me Butt, Funchess,
215-pound Amara Darboh, and the rocket-injected Jeremy Gallon in the redzone, and we've got a cornucopia of targets working for us.