The pipeline of tight ends from New England is continuing in the class of 2023 with the addition of four-star Andrew Rappleyea. Rappleyea plays for Milton Academy, where Michigan linebacker Kalel Mullings also attended.
As a junior, Rappleyea caught 21 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns while also playing safety and outside linebacker on defense.
In interviews following his commitment, Rappleyea admitted he is likely going to be more of a flex tight end than one that plays in-line. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, that definitely makes sense as his body type isn’t really much different from a wide receiver’s.
Rappleyea’s Hudl film claims he runs a 4.62 second 40-yard dash, which does look accurate on film. He usually looks way faster than anyone else on the field, which also is a result of the competition he’s playing. That speed is the most noticeable when he’s coming off the line, where he accelerates quickly.
It took a while for Michigan to offer Rappleyea as the staff had questions about his height. But during his visit last weekend, he was measured a little over 6-foot-4, which exceeded the coaches’ expectations and probably led to them pushing him to commit.
Rappleyea utilizes that long frame well on tape. He often makes catches away from his body, creating a bigger target for his quarterback. Here’s an example of Rappleyea extending above his body to make a catch over the middle.
One thing that stuck out to me about Rappleyea as a receiver is he tends to telegraph his breaks. He makes big, exaggerated feints that makes it obvious for more experienced defenders to tell where he’s headed. This will have to get polished up with more college coaching.
Even though Rappleyea said he’ll be more of a receiver, he’ll still have to block in Michigan’s system. Watching a half of one of Rappleyea’s games last fall, it is clear he doesn’t lack effort like many receivers would at this level.
Rappleyea is pretty good at latching on to his target and locking them out with his arms. Here, he’s able to pancake the guy he’s facing at the goal line.
However, you can tell Rappleyea definitely needs to pack on some strength and bulk in the weight room before he can withstand Big Ten competition. He can struggle to drive back bigger defenders sometimes.
Michigan is loaded at tight end for next season with Erick All and Luke Schoonmaker returning, but both could be gone by the time Rappleyea hits campus. Younger tight ends like Matthew Hibner and Louis Hansen have yet to make contributions on the field yet, so there could be some opportunity for Rappleyea to see the field early.
But with Rappleyea needing to pack some pounds onto his frame and improve his craft more, it’s more likely he starts getting playing time after a couple of years.
You can watch Rappleyea’s junior year highlights below: