ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One of the staples in a Jim Harbaugh’s offense are his tight ends/ And so happens his son -- Jay Harbaugh -- is the tight ends coach.
In his first season as an assistant, Jay Harbaugh will be inheriting a position group that’s not rich in experience. So naturally, he’s looking at senior tight end A.J. Williams this year to become the leader of the group.
“A.J. brings some senior and veteran craftiness,” said Harbaugh. “He’s been around the block and he has had some success and he’s really hungry and excited for an opportunity to make some plays and to be a part of what we are going to do on offense. He’s going to be a huge part of it in what he brings as a blocker at the line of scrimmage. Physically, that is something we are going to need and he’s special in that regard, so I’m excited for that.”
“Jake is a good leader and we got a group full of guys that are inclined to lead,” said Harbaugh. “Jake does a tremendous job of leading by example and he works his butt off. That is the kind of thing that garners respect amongst the guys and his teammates. That is kind of the tone he sets for everybody and it is impressive to watch.
“In terms of him as a guy, one thing that stands out is his drive and that look in his eyes like he really wants it and works like it. It’s not just talk or show. He’s a guy that wants to really, really great.”
Several players that haven’t seen much game action will be expected to come in and play right away especially with three tight end sets U-M intends on using. Freshman Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is expected to contribute early on, says Harbaugh.
“I’m hoping he brings an element of physical play,” Harbaugh said. “Violent, violent football play. That’s what I hope for and he obviously has the size and frame to make life miserable for a lot of SAM linebackers and defensive ends, who a lot of time has the upper hand against tight ends. He’s playing with as long as levers as those guys and significant girth in his build, so that is exciting. We will see how it goes.”
Although, the experience and returning productivity isn’t there, the potential to be good is and Harbaugh has already started to see the growth from the spring to now.
Moving forward, he’s hoping that positive trend follows into the season and grows within this unit.
“It’s been remarkable and a lot of good progress in every way,” said Harbaugh. “Physically, certain guys have done things that we wanted as a staff to their bodies to give them a competitive edge and to give our group a competitive edge. Mentally, guys have progressed and progressed even further assignment wise, so just looking for that trend to continue.”