The receiver position will have to recover from the loss of production that left once Jeremy Gallon moved on to greener pastures. Like most of the Michigan offense, there is a lot of inexperienced youth on the receiver depth chart. However, there is one player who has switched to full-time receiver that is deemed as the safest bet that Michigan has. Devin Funchess is a clear starter and could have a very successful 2014 season.
What about the rest of the receivers in 2014?
The Players (Listed in order by class)
|Freshman (Redshirt)||Jaron Dukes|
|Sophomore (Redshirt)||Amara Darboh|
|Sophomore (Redshirt)||Jehu Chesson|
As stated before, the youth on the roster cannot be appreciated (for lack of a better word), until broken down in the chart. With Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo leaving after last season, as did the senior leadership. Dennis Norfleet and Funchess will have to assume the role as leaders, leaders who are still somewhat fresh to the receiver position at the college level. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but game experience is a cause of concern.
The other positive to having youth on the roster is the ability to have continuity as the years progress. This group of freshman and redshirt freshman has the chance to produce some quality receivers if it all works out.
2013 Statistics (If Applicable)
As you can see, YIKES.
For dramatic effect, all the other receivers on roster were not included due to not recording a stat from last season. So, three receivers who recorded a catch are returning with just one singular receiver coming back who recorded more than two touchdowns. At face value, that's not good. But, when examining deeper, it shows just how valuable Gallon was to the Michigan offense in 2013.
The statistics for these three players should increase in 2014, but there are other players who are determined to see some playing time.
2014 Maize n Brew Projected Depth Chart
|WR 1||Devin Funchess||Jaron Dukes/Csont'e York||Drake Harris|
|WR 2||Freddy Canteen||Jehu Chesson||Da'Mario Jones|
|WR 3 (Slot)||Dennis Norfleet||Amara Darboh||Drake Harris|
Spring game hype should obviously be taken with a grain of salt, but Freddy Canteen showed enough to merit the consideration for the starter at the wide receiver 2 position. The depth chart is a crowded entity that is full of young talent, so someone has to miss out. Freshman like Maurice Ways and Drake Harris (hamstring injury) may miss out and see a redshirt in the 2014 season, but it still doesn't help the receiver situation in 2015.
Funchess is the clear number one starter, and he has the hype to prove it. With a switch to a full-time receiver now complete, his excellent yards-per-catch average from last year could carryover due to him being a sheer match-up nightmare with a tight end build with receiver speed.
The slot is also an interesting position. Does Norfleet secure the position all season or does he eventually surrender the spot to Darboh? Darboh, like Canteen, had a lot of hype surrounding him heading into the season until a foot injury caused him to miss the rest of the season. How does missing 2013 (and not seeing game action in 2012) set him back? Only time will tell.
Three Big Questions
1. Is Funchess ready to assume the "Gardner to Gallon" role?
Absolutely. We saw during the latter half of the 2013 season that the chemistry between Gardner and Funchess was strong, but obviously not as strong as Gallon's was. However, now that Funchess is "the man," his output will skyrocket exponentially. He will be a threat that Gardner will be looking for.
2. Norfleet in the slot, really?
Yes, and I believe it will work. This was a move that was destined to happen during sometime in his career, it now finally happened during his junior season. Norfleet has the opportunity to showcase his talents outside of the return game -- where, in reality, he was just wasting away. He's quick, small and able to burst through holes for some sneaky games. He could be a legitimate threat in the passing game.
Now, it doesn't mean he will see every single snap. Someone like Darboh (or even Chesson) could come in and take some snaps as well.
3. What kind of season will Canteen have?
Hopefully if all goes smoothly during camp, Canteen will be starting. It is very likely that he could have a season statistically like Funchess did a year ago. Something around 700+ yards and five touchdowns. However, it is very likely that he could surprise early on and may flirt with over or equal to 10 touchdowns.
Is he a guaranteed first team All-Freshman Big Ten player? Maybe, it could be possible. But placing that kind of label on top of his head so early is a bit premature. Regardless, Canteen is setting himself up to possibly have a very productive freshman season in Ann Arbor.