don't we all
tyrone wheatley jr
Previously: Jim Harbaugh, DJ Durkin, Tim Drevno, Greg Mattison, Kyle Kalis, Brian Cole, Chase Winovich, Drake Harris, Jabrill Peppers, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Willie Henry, Jourdan Lewis, Wyatt Shallman, James Ross III
Tyrone Wheatley has his hands tied. Ask him about his running backs and that’s the symbol he shows you, hands mashed together to indicate the lack of separation between the players in his position group. He talked about that at Media Day, as well as what it’s like to have his son play for both his alma mater and the team he’s currently coaching.
Did you go back and watch any film on Drake Johnson to get a feel as far as what you’re going to have with him?
“Yeah, I did. I mean, I knew Drake. I recruited Drake when I was at Syracuse. He’s a guy who has a lot of talent [and] a lot of promise, but once again, he’s going to be held to the same standard.”
How did the group look as far as skills beyond just running with the ball- blocking, things of that nature- in the spring?
“They looked good. They looked real good. They had a great base. They’re all well coached backs. All are well coached backs. The biggest thing now is you just have to separate them.
“Right now they’re all in a pack. One or two just has to emerge and separate themselves from the pack. I think that’s the biggest problem that’s going on right now. They’re all well coached, they’re all good athletes, they’re all good football players, they’re all good running backs, but no one has just said, ‘Hey, I’m going to distance myself’ and that’s the problem right now.”
Have you had any talks with Fred Jackson as far as picking up where he left off?
“Uh…eh, you asked that question already. No, not really.”
Your son being here- how much does he want to separate himself from you and be a college student? What’s that relationship been like?
“We give him his space, but to say separate himself, he’s already separated himself because the distance of my playing years and his playing years are so far apart that there’s already distance. Now I’m dad, but I’m the running backs coach. Coach Harbaugh, Jay Harbaugh, coaches him. So when you say distance yourself, that’s the distance.
“We’re close. People have to understand that’s my son still and I still will look at him as a father, being proud of him as a father and having expectations. I think sometimes a father’s expectations are a little tougher than a coach’s expectations, you know? But yeah, the distance is already there but we’re very close.”
[Much more after THE JUMP]
The saddest legend. Is Toys R Us headquartered in North Carolina?
— Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) August 17, 2015
Why stop there, NC State? You've honored a gentleman you chased off your campus for playing baseball who finished his Wolfpack career with 7.2 yards per attempt. Once you've broken down the walls between that gentleman and a legends patch there are no barriers left.
Who's wearing 23 for you? He's now the Michael Jordan memorial (probably) tailback. He played somewhat near your school, after all. Jordan Spieth—certainly a carbon-based lifeform—does not have a number, so you can put a patch for him on all your jerseys. Dr. Manhattan may be fictional, but that doesn't have to stop you, NC State. Six words: NC State legend Dr. Manhattan cosplay.
Boom. You just got wow experienced. That will be one million dollars for consulting. Make the check out to Boom Wow Experienced Dot Org Net Inc.
On Samuelson's exit. Dan Samuelson was extremely candid with Nick Baumgardner in the aftermath:
"It had been a tough two years, not seeing the field and really not ever hitting the two-deep spot," Samuelson said Saturday. "I just realized, this is my third season, my chances of playing still aren't very good. I decided it was time to make a change and head somewhere where my chances were a little better.
"I just felt like it wasn't the best fit for me anymore."
Samuelson says he was third string throughout the spring and summer, and was told to focus on gaining more weight this offseason by Michigan's coaching staff -- something he says he accomplished after wrapping spring ball at 6-foot-5, 289 pounds.
But once camp began, Samuelson says he began to realize he wasn't making any progress when it came to Michigan's depth chart.
These days it's tough to play at less than 300, and Samuelson struggling to get up to 290 in his third year means the writing's on the wall. Samuelson made no bones about it.
Injury scares. While it seems Bryan Mone is going to be laid up for a long time with the broken ankle everyone says he's got, rumors that two more players were down for the count seem overblown.
The way this generally goes is several sites report the same thing without names, but with each one using a different set of parameters to indicate who it is (offensive freshman expected to contribute, etc.) people can deduce who the players in question were. Then the sites are like "right, those two guys" in follow-ups. It's a quality system. I enjoy it.
Anyway, in this case the two injured gents were TJ Wheatley and Wyatt Shallman. Steve Lorenz reported that Wheatley had a knee thing that was just a strain, not torn ligaments; Sam Webb reported that Shallman has a strained calf. Both are missing practice time and may miss a game or two but should be back early in the season.
This is a bad article. There are many bad articles. I don't often point them out these days, but this one is special. It is a column in Psychology Today titled "Obesely Speaking" about something something Harbaugh intermittent reinforcement SCIENCE:
We are also drawn to Harbaugh because we are a social species, and instinctually we know that we are only as strong as our weakest, as healthy as our sickest, as wealthy as our poorest – though we’ve lost sight of that. Hence, his many humanitarian deeds add yet another level of appeal. I asked several Internet social media groups, such as Michigan Football HQ, The University of Michigan M Club, Michigan Proud and True, Big Ten Talk etc. why they liked Jim Harbaugh. U of M alumnus, Bruce Laing, encapsulates the majority opinion: He will instill toughness and accountability in the athletes, posted Laing in the University of Michigan M Club. Our children's futures are vital, so we embrace the importance of education, accountability and toughness because they galvanize that future; yet another reason Americans are drawn to Harbaugh.
Woof. The saddest part of this article is that it has 80(!) references to scientific papers at the end of it. Hopefully the guy just writes his columns such that all those papers are always at the end and he just C&Ps it. As good an explanation as any.
Well done. EDSBS commentariat member Tim Hodgson undertook an experiment:
Undertake your experiment today!
No union for (just) you. The National Labor Relations Board turned down Northwestern's attempt to unionize yesterday with a ruling reminiscent of Kirk Ferentz facing fourth and two in the opponent's territory:
"In the decision, the Board held that asserting jurisdiction would not promote labor stability due to the nature and structure of NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)," the NLRB wrote in its decision. "By statute the Board does not have jurisdiction over state-run colleges and universities, which constitute 108 of the roughly 125 FBS teams.
"In addition, every school in the Big Ten, except Northwestern, is a state-run institution. As the NCAA and conference maintain substantial control over individual teams, the Board held that asserting jurisdiction over a single team would not promote stability in labor relations across the league.
"This decision is narrowly focused to apply only to the players in this case and does not preclude reconsideration of this issue in the future."
They punted. That's disappointing and a bit nonsensical. Matt Hinton points out that this is a federal agency explicitly concerned with a "level playing field" that does not exist and never will. By shooting down this case, the NRLB forces any unionization effort to be held over at least all private schools and probably something even wider than that.
There is short term relief here for the NCAA; in the longer term this is going down in court.
Etc.: Wheatley profiled. 1981 SI piece on Bo is gold. The first-ever sports team at Michigan. Do not read, Gary Danielsn. Also do not read, Gary Danielson. Here is a week old piece on Kevin Tolbert I meant to link earlier.
|Manlius, NY – 6'6", 260|
|Scout||4*, #279 overall
#25 DE, #1 NY
|Rivals||4*, NR overall
#13 TE, #1 NY
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#12 TE, #1 NY
|24/7||4*, #323 overall
#13 TE, #1 NY
|Other Suitors||Bama, UCLA, USC, UF, FSU, Oregon, PSU, Wisconsin|
|YMRMFSPA||Tyler Ecker or Levine Toilolo|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Semper Fi game. Son of—surprise!—Tyrone Wheatley.|
The second consecutive junior on our recruiting profile series is also the son of a Wolverine legend, one who happens to be the running backs coach. Tyrone Wheatley's kid is not a sprinter, though: he's a 6'6", 260 pound jumbo athlete who could play on either side of the ball.
This sounds like a person fated to play for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. It is possible Wheatley Jr's very existence set in motion the series of events that ended with Jim Harbaugh stumbling to the podium in January. But for the longest time it didn't seem like the younger Wheatley was particularly interested in Michigan. It was in fact USC, UCLA and Alabama that were thought to lead until his dad was hired. Michigan wasn't even on his list for a minute there.
But all's well that ends well, and Michigan has a… large gentleman. The recruiting sites don't really know what position he's going to be; neither do I. They generally came around to the idea he'd be a tight end late, with a couple flipping his position in their last updates. The impetus for this appears to be his appearance at the Semper Fi game, where he demonstrated a certain skill($) Michigan has been badly lacking in their tight ends for a while now:
He's a big, strong, physical tight end prospect … I talked to an analyst who watched him all week at the Semper Fidelis All-Star game practices and said he was knocking people off the ball and dominating other elite defensive end prospects at the line of scrimmage. … got the length and athleticism to block a speed rusher or a quicker outside linebacker and can hold his own against a big 3-4 defensive end. In the passing game, Wheatley is still raw but he's got very soft and secure hands.
Neither the blocking proficiency or the receiving inexperience is much of a surprise. Wheatley caught just 11 passes as a senior on a team that barely threw the ball. Just about all of them are in the reel above. The elder Wheatley talked to Sam Webb about it:
"…you really won’t see him blossom as a tight end because of the offense that they’re in. … when they do target him, he is double covered and the ball is sometimes overthrown, underthrown. You really won’t see him blossom in that regard. The kid has mitts. He can catch the ball. He has great range for a big fellow. He has great catching radius. He can catch the ball over his shoulder, adjust."
That was mostly confirmed by other scouting reports. This one is a bit wobbly but I mean basically:
Wheatley Jr. is a menace. He has a wide body and impressive strength. And while he usually shines as a blocker, he made his presence known in the passing attack on Friday. He didn't look pretty catching passes at all times. In fact, he fought the ball on occasions, but he always made the catch when targeted.
ESPN described something similar to "fighting the ball" in their report, citing some "tightness" when he tries to adjust to a ball in flight. That seems to be the inverse of when a guy gets praised for his body control. Wheatley might not be the most agile guy, and that is why the recruiting sites don't have a ranking for him commensurate with his offers.
I was under the impression that Wheatley Jr was a bigger deal in the rankings than he actually was. When you have an offer list like that out of New York you're usually a no-doubter. So it's a surprise that he makes a top 300 just once and ESPN offers up a three star rating.
Those offers were seemingly sincere. I went back and checked out some 247 articles from schools in pursuit and there was no mention of whether he was a "take" or not, just excitement and optimism they might lock him down. I mean, he took an official to Tuscaloosa in late January.
But I get it. If Wheatley's a TE there's a lot of projection you have to make from that particular offense in upstate New York to one that throws in college. Scout put him on their list of the top five kids "best served to redshirt":
… has a world of talent. If he plays tight end in college, he will have to drop some weight. If he plays defensive end, he will need to refine his technique.
And Wheatley does not demonstrate the ability to blow the top off the defense like a Fleener or an OJ Howard. (Or a Funchess, if Funchess was a tight end, which he is emphatically not.) ESPN is the only service to give him three stars and that lack appears to be their main issue with him:
very good height and a lengthy frame that can still support more good mass … Doesn't demonstrate the burst or top-end speed to stretch the field … Size and reach can make a tough match-up, but doesn't display great burst out of breaks to consistently run away from defenders and create separation. … good hands with the ability to extend and catch away from his frame. Displays ability to reach up and snag passes thrown above his head. …not always natural when having to open up frame and adjust.
The snippets of Wheatley as a receiver above confirm that, but there is still some upside here. Wheatley pushed up to 270 at points during high school before getting back down to 260. He is still developing physically, and might drop to 250 and up his quicks, or he might end up 280 and be a road grader (or DE).
And what about defensive end? Certainly a possibility. Both his dad and his coach think his maximum upside is there:
"His dad has been on record as saying he's a better defensive player. I would probably go there. I think he's an amazing defensive end. He's a great tight end as well, but the things he's able to do, he's able to dominate games at defensive end."
Early in his high school days he mostly chose DE when he went to camps, and his showings there spurred the flood of early offers from heavy hitters:
…far and away the best player at the camp. The Rivals250 defensive end has added a lot of strength to his core and it helped him play with good leverage. Wheatley used that strength to help push offensive linemen out of the way en route to the quarterback. He also showed very good technique, beating offensive linemen inside and outside.
His stats are certainly more impressive at that spot, although mostly because they don't hand out stats for making kids two dimensional.
Given what we saw this spring, I guarantee that in 2016 we get reports that Wheatley is playing on both sides of the ball. You know, just in case. Whether he sticks there will depends partially on how he's doing as a DE and partially on how much Harbaugh likes Bunting, Hill, McKeon, et al. versus Wormley, Johnson, Marshall, et al. Given the two DEs in this recruiting class and Harbaugh's predilection for TEs, the bet here is that he stays on offense. You never know, though.
Why Tyler Ecker or Levine Tiololo? Ecker is your Michigan comparison: a hefty but reasonably agile tight end able to be a dual threat. Ecker is infamous for the end of that Nebraska bowl game, but when he was not doing that he was a B+ athlete who was a solid starter for Michigan. Wheatley is a bit bigger, and Ecker was not regarded as an especially punishing blocker. Hopefully Wheatley would be Ecker++.
Tiololo is the Harbaugh comparison. At his Cardinal apex, Harbaugh's three-headed TE troika included Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz, and Levine Toilolo, all of whom went in the the NFL draft. The 6'8", 260 pound Toilolo was the biggest and most ponderous of the group—Fleener ran a 4.52 40 at 250 pounds!—but still a highly effective weapon thanks to his catching radius and the fact that he could generally outrun people who started the play going the wrong way.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. General consensus seems based on a shruggie emoticon about where he'll play. Level of competition and style of offense makes TE evaluation difficult. Did hit a number of camps as an underclassman and played in Semper Fi game.
Variance: High. Could be a killer. Could be just okay.
Ceiling: High. At either end or TE has the ability to play in the NFL.
General Excitement Level: High. Harbaugh/Drevno TEs tend to be excellent and Wheatley provides enticing clay for them to work with. None of Harbaugh's NFL TE troika were ranked anywhere near Wheatley.
Projection: Likely he plays as a freshman. Harbaugh loves him some tight ends and Wheatley may be better prepared to be a second blocker than Ian Bunting, who is still listed 20 pounds lighter than Wheatley is. Khalid Hill was out this spring, as well, so Harbaugh is unfamiliar with him. Easy to see Wheatley as the second inline tight end in goal line/Harbaugh packages.
From there, he'll probably continue being the blocky sidekick to Michigan's slightly quicker tight ends. Butt has another year left after this one and Bunting should be rounding into a Michigan version of Fleener or Ertz; Wheatley will get a ton of time and will hopefully be the unsung hero that gets ++++ in UFR.
“Everything’s great. Enjoying myself.”
What's caught your eye the most about your running backs?
“Talented group. Real talented. They haven't even scratched the surface. That's really what has caught my eye, so right now I'm kind of like an artist with a blank canvas. I can just have at it. That's really what it feels like.”
What's it been like for you to be back here as a coach?
“Haven't really thought about it to be honest, because my focus is Big Ten championship, national championship, 2000-yard rusher, so my days here haven't really – and I've been the type of person once I left here, I left here. I was onto better things, things that this place had catapulted me on to do. That's where my mindset was. But now I'm back for a totally different reason, so… you know, I'm a coach.”
We haven't talked with you since your son signed with the University of Michigan. Talk about that aspect of having him join you here.
“Well, it's a great thing. As a father you're always happy for your child and his success and the things that he's done, but once again, I'm just focused on the guys that are here right now and when he gets here he'll have his fair time. He'll have his time to get it, but right now my focus is on the guys that are here.”
Were you getting a little bit of a better feel for them today with them having the pads on?
“Not really. You can understand who they are even without the pads. The pads is just kind of one of the things a) that shows the physicality and b) if they are in hitting shape and that type of deal. As far as the feel, watching film of those guys and studying them I kind of already had a feel for who they were.”
We haven't had a chance to see Ty Isaac with him sitting out last year. What does he bring different than the other guys in terms of style and things like that?
“I don't think it's just Ty Isaac being different. Each guy brings a different aspect to the game. I’d just say that probably – I wouldn't say probably, he is the largest one out of the bunch. But in terms of difference, that would probably be it just about him being different – [he’s] bigger. He has great feet, good vision, he's a smooth runner but I wouldn't say he's any different than any other guy.”
[After THE JUMP: the characteristics of an ideal Tyrone Wheatley-coached back]
According to multiple outlets, Tyrone "TJ" Wheatley Jr. chose Michigan over UCLA this afternoon, and will join his legendary father—now the running backs coach—in Ann Arbor. Wheatley is regarded as an athlete who could play either tight end or defensive end; in this class, he'll most likely start out on offense. Wheatley is the 14th commit in the 2015 class and the first at tight end.
4*, #25 DE,
|4*, #13 TE||3*, 79, #12 TE-Y||4*, 90, #13 TE||
4*, #12 TE,
Only Scout evaluated Wheatley as a defensive end; perhaps not unrelated, they rank him the highest of the four services. The tight end disctinction appeared to hurt his ratings elsewhere. Wheatley was an early member of the Rivals250, but they only placed five TEs in their final rankings (as opposed to 17 SDEs). He came closer to the top list on 247—their top ten TEs made the Top247. Wheatley also made ESPN's Junior 300 back in July of 2013, then gradually slid back to a three-star—his underclassman evaluation focused much more on his potential as a defender than his final scouting report.
All four sites list him at 6'6" with a significant spread in weight: anywhere from 245 (Rivals) to 270 (Scout, which also gives him an extra half-inch of height). A recent quote from Wheatley Sr. pegs his son at 6'6", 255—he'd apparently reached 270 before cutting some weight.
I guess the lack of interest in New York high school football trumps the desire to evaluate a four-star prospect in person, as there's surprisingly little on Wheatley outside of camp and film evaluations. Luckily, most scouting reports focus on his prospects as a tight end, where he's expected to end up at Michigan.
ESPN likes his potential more on offense than defense; here's what they have to say about his ball skills and blocking ($):
Ball Skills: Displays good hands with the ability to extend and catch away from his frame. Displays ability to reach up and snag passes thrown above his head. Flashes adequate ability to adjust to throws off target, but displays some tightness and not always natural when having to open up frame and adjust.
Blocking: Flashes ability to deliver an initial pop and get good placement with his hands with enough strength to control defenders when he gets locked on. Needs to watch pad level and more consistently roll hips at contact. Displays adequate ability to adjust and get a hat on second-level targets.
Always with the pad level.
Wheatley worked out at tight end at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp way back in 2013, and he impressed GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
At 6-6, 240-pounds, Wheatley Jr. certainly isn’t a gentle giant and despite the non-padded drill work the tight ends did on Saturday, the son of former Michigan great Tyrone Wheatley was able to use his physicality and size to his advantage in the 1-on-1’s against linebackers. Wheatley Jr. already runs refined routes for such a young prospect, showing a nice resemblance of footwork passed down by his father.
Much more recently, Wheatley had a standout performance in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl practices, earning top performer honors on the third day from 247's Alex Gleitman...
Alpha Dog: Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
The 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end is one of the most physically imposing players on the East team, but it is his athleticism and soft hands at that size that make him the outstanding prospect that he is.
Wheatley had an outstanding today in general skeleton drills, as well as the scrimmaging and goal line sessions, flashing enough speed to get free from defenders, as well as using his strength and body size to get positioning in shorter yardage situations.
The chatter among onlookers at practice was that there was no question that Wheatley was the most impressive performer in today's practice session.
...and coming in second according to Rob Cassidy of Rivals ($):
Wheatley Jr. is a menace. He has a wide body and impressive strength. And while he usually shines as a blocker, he made his presence known in the passing attack on Friday. He didn't look pretty catching passes at all times. In fact, he fought the ball on occasions, but he always made the catch when targeted. He made a long list of plays throughout the afternoon and always seemed to find a way to get open in the flat.
Scout's free evaluation focuses on his ability on defense:
Wheatley plays tight end and defensive end, but he looks more comfortable and natural on defense. He gets off the ball quickly, but sometimes gets upright too quickly. Wheatley has the size to overpower an offensive tackle, and also can use his speed to get around the edge. In addition, he can run a play down from behind and is versatile enough to move inside and play defensive tackle if he adds the weight. -- Brian Dohn
That sounds pretty ideal for an SDE in Durkin's hybrid system. The other defense-focused evaluations come from 247's Clint Brewster in 2013, looking at Wheatley's sophomore film ($)...
As a defensive end, Wheatley is a destructive force with his size and strength. He is instinctive and can hold the edge in the run game or get after the quarterback with his extremely long wingspan. Wheatley Jr. has a pretty good motor and doesn’t quit, as he will make plays downfield or away from the line of scrimmage. He gets his hands up to deflect passes and gets in passing lanes.
...and a Rivals camp update from the following spring, when Adam Friedman named him the top performer at the NFL Prep 100 ($):
Wheatley was far and away the best player at the camp. The Rivals250 defensive end has added a lot of strength to his core and it helped him play with good leverage. Wheatley used that strength to help push offensive linemen out of the way en route to the quarterback. He also showed very good technique, beating offensive linemen inside and outside.
I'll give the final word to a man who's quite familiar with Wheatley—his father, who went into exacting detail on his son's game in a free interview with Sam Webb that's well worth your time:
Tyrone Wheatley, Sr.: “His route running, understanding leverage, understanding zone reads. I think that is the biggest improvement where he has blossomed, where last year he was just running to run. He was running routes. He didn’t understand coverage and how to set a route up, when the defense is in a zone or set man coverage up. Now there are certain routes that he likes and is he starting to (make more plays). He knows he is going to be doubled team or however they are going to play him. He sees that right off the bat. He understands the leverage and how to get open in those situations.”
The elder Wheatley noted yards after the catch and blocking technique as areas for improvement. Check out the full interview for his thoughts on TJ as a DE.
Wheatley held offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, UCLA, UNC, Washington, and Wisconsin, among others.
Wheatley is the first four-star prospect in the Rivals era (2002-) to come out of Canisius. In fact, the only three-star prospect they've produced is 2014 Pitt signee Qadree Ollison.
According to MaxPreps, Wheatley had 11 catches for 182 yards and two TDs in a run-heavy offense and 68 tackles, 24 TFLs, ten sacks, three pass deflections, four forced fumbles, and two blocked punts on defense en route to NYSSWA Player of the Year honors as a senior. The previous year, he recorded 16 catches for 190 yards and two TDs along with 41 tackles, 14 TFLs, two sacks, an interception, and four forced fumbles.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the four sites list a 40 time.
Senior highlights at tight end:
Junior offense highlights:
Junior defense highlights:
Single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page. Unfortunately, there's no available highlight tape of him on defense as a senior.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Wheatley could contribute on either side of the ball and fill a pretty big need; it appears he'll at least start his college career at tight end, where he could see the field immediately as a big blocker who can slip out into the flat and occasionally threaten up the seam. Whether he comes in on offense or defense, it's unlikely he'll take a redshirt—Michigan needs help at DE, as well.
While Wheatley's lack of top-end speed and post-catch elusiveness may limit his ceiling, he should be an important cog in Harbaugh's offense due to his ability to block and catch at his size. If he ends up on defense, he should provide depth and eventually make a bigger impact as a strongside DE.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Unless WR Van Jefferson pulls a surprise or Michigan sends out some late offers, Wheatley is almost undoubtedly the last commit in the class.
FL RB Karan Higdon: flips from Iowa to Michigan
CT TE Chris Clark: inexplicably chooses UCLA
AL CB/QB Keith Washington: flips from Cal to Michigan
MI RB Mike Weber: sticks with OSU
GA LB Roquan Smith: picks UCLA
TN WR Van Jefferson: 1:30? 3:45? Vision quest?
FL DE Shelton Johnson: 3 PM
NY TE/DE Ty Wheatley Jr: 3:15 PM
CA CB Iman Marshall: 4 PM
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