Well, this isn't good. It's being reported that sophomore tight end Jake Butt, who played as a true freshman in 2013, has torn his ACL, making this Michigan's first official injury during the 2014 off-season. Whoopee.
Via Detroit News writer Angelique Chengelis's Twitter:
UM TE Jake Butt out indefinitely with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in winter conditioning per UM— angelique (@chengelis) February 13, 2014
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan has lost another player to an ACL injury.
The football program announced Thursday morning that rising sophomore tight end Jake Butt is out indefinitely after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament during winter conditioning drills.
Butt is the sixth Wolverine to go down with this injury in the past year.
Seth at MGoBlog:
Butt was Michigan's best option to be a catchy-blocky tight end so this is Not Good.
I wouldn't count him as a redshirt; recovery from ACL tears these days is really fast. FWIW Jake Ryan tore his on March 20 last year and made it back in late October.
However the intervening months were going to be especially important for Butt to get comfortable in the offense and gain the requisite weight to get beyond the largely Just a Receiver™ role he played last year. Likelihood of Ian Bunting's shirt being burned just shot through the stratosphere, since other options are A.J. Williams and Khalil Hill.
Brad at Maize n' Blue Nation:
How this effects the offense? Well, if Nussmeier values the TE a lot, it will have a big impact. Funchess is, by design a tight end...but he also moonlights as a wide receiver – a pretty good one. This injury could impact that.
AJ Williams, Jordan Paskorz and Khalid Hill will like battle it out this spring for playing time. Incoming freshman Ian Bunting could also be in the mix when he arrives this summer.
Brady Hoke's statement on Jake Butt's injury via MGoBlue.com:
"Jake's done a tremendous job since he's been here," said head coach Brady Hoke. "He's worked extremely hard and gained a lot of weight to become the complete tight end he wants to be. I think he showed flashes of that towards the end of last season. This is a tough break, but because of his work ethic and attitude, the kind of young man he is, we know he will be back as soon as he can and as strong as ever."
As others have pointed out, this is bad, but it does open the door for players like Wyatt Shallman, who was recruited as a RB/SDE last year and redshirted, to get some playing time, as it has been widely speculated previously that Shallman could be a viable move to tight end. Also, if offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's offense is more wide-receiver based than tight-end based, this could open up a more secure slot position for speedster Dennis Norfleet, who has struggled to find a position where he can make a decent (positive) impact.