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Michigan Football: Wolverines' Well of Wide Receivers Highlights Doug Nussmeier's Offense

Jehu Chesson, Devin Funchess, Amara Darboh, Freddy Canteen and Da'Mario Jones, along with several others, give Michigan's offense plenty of pass-catching prowess.

Jehu Chesson is among a half-dozen of potential WR targets for Michigan QBs in 2014.
Jehu Chesson is among a half-dozen of potential WR targets for Michigan QBs in 2014.
Gregory Shamus

Drake Harris is nursing a hammy.

But once the true frosh regains his health, he'll add another dimension of athleticism to an already stocked and stacked group of Michigan wide receivers.

During the spring game, Freddy Canteen--or Freddy Footwork, if you prefer--looked like he's been here before. For a true frosh, and an early enrollee at that, he was off the charts. Anything less than"impressive" just wouldn't be appropriate when describing what he did this past Saturday.

It was a practice, sure. No real need to go pedal-to-the-metal with Canteen predictions right now. But he was good. Really good. Probably the best offensive player of the day.

However, take the sample into account: A few snaps with friends on a brisk April afternoon at The Big House--it wasn't late November against maize-and-blue-hating Ohio State. Let's be clear about that.

Of course, Devin Funchess played well. Had Devin Gardner been more accurate, the junior wideout could have had at least six catches. Gardner certainly targeted Funchess enough during the scrimmage.

Get used to seeing that.

Due to new talent and existing firepower, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has a variety of type and skill sets ready to go for 2014. Team 135 may have one of the deepest pools of receivers in recent memory. Traditionally, the Wolverines' offense has been predicated on beefy O-lines and battery-ram running backs.

That'll eventually return. But for now, at least this season, the offense looks to be receiver-heavy.

So why not take advantage of it?

Devin Gardner's development is vital. So is that of Shane Morris, a sophomore who could outgun his senior counterpart this fall. If Saturday gave us any indication, Gardner's supposed stranglehold on the position appears to be closer to a loose grip.

Either way, trust that Nussmeier will have the most qualified arm throwing to the most qualified receivers, who are as follows:

Devin Funchess

2013 stats: 49 catches, 798 yards, 15.3 YPC, six touchdowns

As a freshman, Funchess displayed the ability to go up and get passes--even those that weren't initially intended for him. In 2012--and, really in 2013--Funchess corralled enough errant throws to drop a few jaws.

You may have found yourself saying, "Did you see that? This guy is going to be good."

Yes, people saw that. And yes, you were right--he is going to be good.

At 6'5" and 230 pounds, Funchess is the Boogie Man who stars in the nightmares of opposing defensive backs, who are usually seven inches shorter and about 50 pounds lighter.

Imagine if he could block--he'd be the most athletic tight end in the Big Ten. Guess Nussmeier has to settle for the wideout edition of Funchess, which is likely bound for all-league status in 2014.

Jehu Chesson

2013 stats: 15 catches for 221 yards, 14.7 YPC, one touchdown

In terms of ideal size, Chesson's almost there. At 6'3," he has the height. At 193 pounds, he aligns with the rest of his teammates. Michigan's top receivers run, on average, 6'2"ish, 200-ish. Give or take.

He's lanky and flexible--perfect for the slot position, especially with his 4.5-second 40-yard speed.

The Rest

If you want to count Dennis Norfleet and Justice Hayes, the Wolverines' "rest" returns 12 catches for 86 yards and zero touchdowns. Reinforcements include sophomores Da'Mario Jones and Csont'e York, and redshirt frosh JaRon Dukes (plus walk-ons and fall enrollee Maurice Ways).

Amara Darboh, a 6'2," 214-pound redshirt sophomore, headlines--for no real reason other than perceived potential--the group of the other guys.

Other than having Funchess and Chesson, Michigan lacks those with proven, in-game experience. But Darboh has system experience.

Now that his right foot injury is behind him, Darboh could jump to the levels of Nos. 1 and 2.

Part of the 2013 class, Jones, York and Dukes interested me. They weren't 5-stars, but I loved what they brought to the table. They were indicative of Michigan's "get big receivers" mindset. Don't forget to thank Al Borges, the ex, for that one. Widely criticized for everything, the former OC knew how to select pass-catchers.

Of course, Canteen's scrimmage was spectacular. The more I think about it, the more I can't get over his comfort level. Strikes such as his highlight 44-yarder are going to be common place. Canteen's going to exceed everyone's expectations.

However, after a slap to the face, I quickly reminded myself that it was just a "meaningless" practice. Well, not necessarily "meaningless," but you get the gist. Proceeding with caution is always a smart move. But let down your guard--just a little--for Canteen.

Follow Maize 'n Brew's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81