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TE Max Bredeson has become a key piece for Michigan’s offense

The third Bredeson to attend U-M has a chance to achieve something neither of his brothers did.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021 recruiting class brought in several key contributors for the undefeated Michigan Wolverines this season, including safety Rod Moore, linebacker Junior Colson, running back Donovan Edwards and quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

The quarterback position, in particular, featured one of the most unique collections of positional talent in recent memory: the five-star McCarthy, Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman, walk-on and cancer survivor Davis Warren, and legacy walk-on Max Bredeson.

Bredeson — unlike his brothers — was not highly sought after by the Wolverines. Max’s older brother, Ben, was a two-time All-American offensive lineman and started 46 games during his four-year career at Michigan. Max’s other brother, Jack, was a four-year letterman for Michigan’s baseball team as a pitcher and a key part of Michigan’s NCAA runner-up finish in 2019.

Ben and Jack were standouts at an early age. Ben was the state player of the year in Wisconsin and a high school All-American, while Jack was a four-sport varsity athlete who excelled at anything he tried. Max, on the other hand, only played six career football games in high school (all as a senior) and merely dabbled on the baseball diamond in the spring.

Naturally, the thought of collegiate sports didn’t even come into the fold until Max’s senior season when he was named the Classic 8 Conference Player of Year. Perhaps it was the last name, his physical traits, or a combination, but after his six-game senior season in 2020, Max had two preferred walk-on offers: Ole Miss and Michigan.

Due to the pandemic, Max could not visit Ole Miss and committed to a school that had been unknowingly recruiting him for years.

Back in September, Max touched on his early love for Michigan and how it inadvertently began because of his brothers’ recruiting experiences: “I think it was recruiting — when Ben was being recruited — that’s when I fell in love with it. I was just a kid running around. They dressed me up in the jersey, too. They were trying to pitch me, too, because obviously with Ben. But I loved Michigan right away.”

However, there was one more catch to Max’s recruitment — he would be switching positions to tight end. The unexpected value of his inexperience was that switching positions would be far easier for him than most highly touted recruits. Although Max had never played tight end, he had never played quarterback until six months ago. Ignorance can be football bliss.

As a freshman, Max was undersized at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, but that did not stop him from earning his first varsity letter and earning Scout Team Player of the Week honors for his help in the team’s preparation for the Nebraska game.

Bredeson was a member of one of the best tight end rooms in the country, playing with guys like Erick All, Luke Schoonmaker, Carter Selzer, Joel Honigford, Matthew Hibner and Louis Hansen. The only problem for Bredeson, however, was all six of those players were in front of him on the depth chart in 2021, and all six returned in 2022. And not to mention, the Wolverines were bringing in Colston Loveland and Marlin Klein.

To better prepare himself for his sophomore season, he put on 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason, but still remained relatively undersized for a Big Ten tight end. During fall camp, though, something finally clicked. Head coach Jim Harbaugh frequently raves about gritty third- and fourth-stringers during camp, and Bredeson was a name that was always mentioned this year. What had changed? How had he usurped so many in such a short amount of time?

While sometimes Harbaugh’s comments can feel like standard coach-speak lifting up less talented but hard working players, there was nothing misleading with his praise for Bredeson. From an outsider’s perspective, Bredeson’s understanding of the game had finally caught up to his effort, and it didn’t take him long to show everyone else.

In the first game of the season, he caught his first career pass. In the second game of the season, he caught his second for a 56-yard gain where he almost reached the end zone.

While he could not escape the last tackler, he had escaped garbage time duty. Coupled with the fact that All was done for the year due to injury, Bredeson was now being called upon as a key piece of Michigan’s offense.

He has appeared in every game this season and has played key snaps as a tight end, fullback, H-back and on special teams. He is showing versatility like his brother Jack and excelling as a blocker on the football field like Ben. Max has become an invaluable utility player who specializes in physicality.

In two years, he has quickly graduated from undersized try-hard scout team player to a featured role in the Michigan offense. It’s like the story of Rudy, except Bredeson actually has talent and isn’t fighting for mop-up snaps on a three-loss team.

The third Bredeson brother to attend Michigan is two wins away from the family’s first national championship and sibling superiority.

Not bad for an accidental recruitment.