Michigan tight ends Erick All and Luke Schoonmaker both had the most productive year of their career in 2021 — All had 38 receptions for 437 yards and two touchdowns, Schoonmaker tallied 17 receptions for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
Michigan’s tight ends have always had a place in the passing game in head coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense, and the production from All and Schoonmaker should increase this fall.
“Really high expectations. They have high expectations for themselves,” Michigan tight ends coach Grant Newsome told the media on Tuesday. “And we have high expectations, myself and the rest of the staff in the building. Our expectations are that Schoony and Erick should be competing against each other to be the best tight end in the country. You want every guy in the building to have that expectation, but I think the reality of it is we have two really talented guys at the top of that room, and obviously other talented guys below them. Those are two guys that have the chance to be really, really special.”
Newsome said that All and Schoonmaker both do a lot of the things former Michigan tight end Jake Butt used to do for the Wolverines. “There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to take that next step,” Newsome said. Newsome shared that strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert told All and Schoonmaker recently that “they should be pushing each other, trying to outwork each other every single day to decide who’s going to be one, who’s going to be two across the country in terms of tight ends.”
Newsome pointed to a standout game of All’s that exemplifies his athleticism — one where he had a 47-yard touchdown late at Penn State that put Michigan ahead and won the game.
“First off, he’s a truly dynamic athlete. You guys saw the Penn State game last year. To do that, catch that ball and outrun their secondary on a bum ankle,” Newsome said. “He was two weeks off a high-ankle sprain when he was doing that. He’s a really, really special athlete dynamically.”
What makes All dynamic resides not just in his athleticism, but in his determination as well.
“His mentality, we have to try to pull him back sometimes because he just wants to kill everything. He wants to hit, hit, hit, hit, hit,” Newsome said. “That’s great, and we’re trying to be smart about that, especially in spring ball and the beginning of the season — but you’d much rather be trying to pull someone back instead of constantly pushing him forward.”
Newsome joked that he could make All line up against Shaquille O’Neal to splice block him and All would welcome the challenge.
“He’d say, ‘alright, cool,’ and then he’d come off and say, ‘he’s a coward.’ It’s something you gotta love,” Newsome said.
It isn’t just All and Schoonmaker who have to up their game, it’s the entire tight end room, it’s the entire Michigan locker room — they know they have a bullseye on their chest after winning the Big Ten Championship.
“I think I’m the one thing that coaches have been preaching and guys have truly embraced is that it’s hard to get to the top, it’s even harder to stay on top, right?,” Newsome said. “It’s not we’re chasing X team or X team. It’s everyone across the Big Ten and a lot of teams across the country are chasing us now.”