Wheatley Jr.'s Michigan Experience

2015 Fayetteville (NY) Manilus TE, Tyrone Wheatley Jr. had been to Michigan numerous times before his spring game visit last month, but is first as a recruit proved especially memorable.

Tyrone Wheatley is football royalty in Ann Arbor.  Wherever the former All-American running back goes while on his old stomping grounds, he runs into people that celebrate his athletic exploits. That’s why he made it a point to fade into the background when he took his son on his first Michigan recruiting visit.

“He was not around,” Tyrone Wheatley Jr. said of his dad.  “He was there… he came with me, but when we got there, he was like, ’he's the recruit… you guys got him? I'm going to go look around because I haven't been here in a minute.’  So he went around and enjoyed himself.  He ran into old friends, went to old meeting places, and all that good stuff.  He went and bought some beer (laughter), caught up with everybody; so he enjoyed himself.  He just stayed out of the picture.  I didn't see him until after the scrimmage. Everybody was like ‘where's your dad? Where's your dad?’ I was like ‘I have no idea.’ (Laughing).  “Then when we were walking back up the tunnel, he was in the tunnel.”

The elder Wheatley is doing his best to ensure that his son experiences Michigan in a way that isn’t greatly influenced by his mere presence.  Those admirable efforts, however, can only go so far. 

“There were a lot of people laughing, joking, and telling me stories about my dad and stuff,” Wheatley Jr. recalled fondly.  “A lot of people that took care of my dad were joking around, ‘we know you’ll be here… and if you come here, you can come stay at our house. I’ll be like your mom on campus.  You can come over and eat a nice home cooked meal.’ (Laughter).  I had a nice time.”

The attention he received from the Michigan coaching staff was more like that the non-legacy recruits that make their way to town.  But that too proved to be a huge positive since the experiences had by most visiting prospects are extremely impressive.

" The two things (that stood out the most) would probably be coaching staff and the stadium,” said Wheatley Jr.  “I mean, I'd been to Michigan Stadium before… I’ve been there for the games and stuff… but it's a lot different when you come up that tunnel and you're down on the field. It's a whole lot bigger, The other thing was how tight the coaching staff is. They’re all close. That impressed me.”

“I feel like I got a good feel (for the coaches),” Wheatley Jr. stated.  “We drove down real early in the morning, so I was probably one of the first recruits there.  I got to sit down with each coach and talk to them, so it was nice to get to know them a little bit before everybody else got there and it got hectic.  I walked over to the stadium with Coach Ferrigno.  After that, we met up with other recruits and I got to go to the tight end meeting I enjoyed the game. It was pretty cool to watch. They did a lot of stuff with their tight ends. Devin Funchess had some nice catches. I was impressed. Before we left I sat down with Coach Ferrigno in his office. We broke down film and he showed me a bunch of plays and all that stuff. It was nice. I enjoyed meeting him. He's a great guy.”

Despite that impressive showing Wheatley Jr. isn’t ready to name his childhood favorite his current leader.  With just under two years to go before he has to make a commitment, he is content waiting to see what else comes his way.  In the meantime he focused on preparing for camp season.  The 6-6, 240 lb. tight end plans to put his skills to the test at the Nike Football Training Camp in Columbus, OH next month. 

The Michigan Insider Top Stories