Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is his own worst critic -- but in a good way.
Now entering his junior season at Michigan, Wheatley Jr. knows he has a long way to go before he’s ready for the rigors of Big Ten play. First thing, however, he says he needs to get down to his playing weight this off-season to a more slender 260-pounds. At the moment, he stands at 6-foot-6, 270-pounds, as says he’s already lost 20-pounds since the end of the season.
What’s his secret to behind the weight loss?
“Lots of running and diet completely,” he said. “And with our spring four hour practices it’s not that hard (to lose weight), you got to stay consistent.”
The biggest reason for his weight loss, he says, is his desire to be a faster player on the field.
“I think I need to get faster,” he said. “I need to lose a little weight. I’m not a fat guy, but I’m a huge man compared to some other tight ends. I’m pretty good at getting separation. But if I lost some weight I think I would be pretty explosive.”
With his weight loss underway, Wheatley Jr. admits his other focus is learning passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton’s newly installed offense.
“I have a long ways to go,” he said. “I think I am starting to grasp this offense. Coach Pep has brought a lot of new things to this offense. I’m starting to get the hang of it. I feel pretty comfortable. I’m excited to see what happens this fall.”
Individually, Wheatley Jr. finished with three catches for 25 yards and touchdown in 2016, primarily in a backup role. It also so happened to be last season he was able to play with his father, Tyrone Wheatley, who took the running backs coaching position with the Jacksonville Jaguars in January.
“It’s definitely been different, in terms of when my dad was here I could talk to him everyday after practice, coach me up on things I need to do better, stuff like that he was always checking with me,” he said of his father. “It’s not that bad, we have a great staff, they’re all looking out for me. I can always call my dad Jacksonville, but he’s only a phone call away, a facetime away, I’ve been happy.”
Also new to the staff, Greg Frey has become Wheatley Jr.’s tight ends coach this off-season.
“Coach Frey is the man,” he said. “At first I didn’t know much about him, I talked to some ex-offensive lineman, they loved him. My dad said great things about him. He took a visit with him actually at Notre Dame way back in the day coming out of high school, so they’ve been friends and know each other. It’s a small world. I’m happy; he’s a great coach. He’s taught me a lot of things I think he will help me this season.”