The University of Michigan football program has historically produced great tight ends. From recent guys like Jake Butt to old school players like Jim Mandich, the Wolverines traditionally trot out quality tight ends every single season.
And this season is no exception for head coach Jim Harbaugh and company. With a fifth-year senior back to mentor some young up-and-comers, the position has both short-term and long-term potential.
Here is my depth chart prediction for the tight end position in 2020.
Starter — Nick Eubanks, RS SR
The unquestioned leader of the group, and one of the leaders of the entire offense, Eubanks returns as a fifth-year senior who had a successful first year under offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. In 2019, he had 25 receptions for 243 yards and four touchdowns. That was a step up from 2018, when he had eight receptions for 157 yards and one touchdown.
But that 2018 season was an important year for him, as he had to come back from a season-ending injury in 2017, as well as limited playing time his freshman year in 2016. He’s had a long journey, and he has developed into a very nice downfield threat.
Backup — Erick All, SO
A former four-star from Fairfield, Ohio, All comes into his sophomore season looking to take that next step forward and become the next go-to guy at the position.
Coaches have raved about All since he stepped foot on campus in 2019. Tight ends coach Sherrone Moore talked him up last spring, saying “The kid is just extremely tough and he does some things for a freshman that you don’t really expect.”
And then Josh Gattis, speaking with reporters a couple weeks ago, mentioned All without prompt, saying “A guy that I’ll come out and mention who’s having an exceptional camp is a guy named Erick All. He’s going to be a special talent at tight end.”
My placement for All at No. 2 may come as a surprise to some, but All has the talent to become a really good tight end at Michigan. If he isn’t already the direct backup to Eubanks, I think he will be by the end of the year.
Third-string — Luke Schoonmaker, RS SO
Schoonmaker is another guy with potential at the position. At 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds, he has the measurables you would hope for out of a tight end.
In his two seasons at Michigan, he has two receptions for 54 yards and one touchdown, with all of that production coming last season. He played in just one game in 2018 thanks to guys like Sean McKeon, Zach Gentry and Eubanks being ahead of him at the time.
Schoonmaker will likely begin the season as the No. 2, ahead of All, but I just like All’s potential too much to slot him at No. 3. I like Schoonmaker as well, especially with his willingness to block. Michigan has a good problem on their hands with the upside at the position moving forward.
Fourth-string — Matthew Hibner, FR
Hibner is another highly-touted player, coming out of high school in Virginia. He had a monster senior season, which led to Michigan extending the offer on May 30, 2019. He committed June 9, 2019, so it really didn’t take long for the Wolverines to convince him that Ann Arbor was the place for him.
I expect Hibner to ride the pine this year, focus on his body, get acquainted to the system and learn from the guys currently ahead of him.