After getting hurt during camp last year as a freshman Tyrone Wheatley Jr. redshirted with an eye on making his mark the following season. I Michigan’s 41-8 victory over Illinois he did just that, recording his first career reception for a 21-yard catch and score. It’s a moment he won’t forget.
“I wanted to keep the football and didn’t let it go for a while,” Wheatley Jr. said laughingly. “I was holding it and everyone was jumping on me and slapping me on the head and the ref was like “I need the ball” and I was like, “Oh, here you go” and I didn’t really want to let it go. I was going to take it to the sideline.”
Wheatley Jr. was a standout on both sides of the ball in high school, starring at both tight end and defensive end. However, once he sat down with head coach Jim Harbaugh he knew his path to success would come on offense. At 6-foot-6, 276-pounds, his size, strength, and physicality have leant themselves well to him helping to fill the void left at the blocking tight end position left vacant by A.J. Williams. He hopes to continue his positive contributions Saturday versus Michigan State.
The Wolverines will be traveling into East Lansing as the No. 2 ranked team and with Big Ten Tile and national playoff aspirations. Meanwhile the 2-5 Spartans will be looking to derail those hopes. As the son of former Michigan All American running back and current running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley, Wheatley Jr. still remembers stories about old contests between their hated rivals.
“(The Rivalry talk doesn’t happen) as much now like when I was little, we obviously watched all the old games,” said Wheatley Jr. “I have like the Rivalries Series between Michigan and Ohio State and all that stuff in our living room, so I knew about it, but we haven’t really talked about it since I’ve been here.”
Because ofthe loss to the Spartans last season, many might expect this team to possibly be looking ahead to getting revenge this year. However, the team has followed Coach Harbaugh’s approach that every game is a championship game and this weekend will be no different.
“Not really honestly,” said Wheatley Jr. of guys looking ahead. “I mean you could tell a couple of guys like watching like wow they lost to BYU, wow they lost to Northwestern, but you know that they are still going to come for us. It is still thee game. Between them and Ohio State, those are the big games of the year. We obviously have been thinking about it and we know it is a big game, but we are excited to go up there.”