Spring Analysis: Tight Ends

<p>GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel reviews the tight end position and how things shake out at this point in time.</p>

Tight Ends
88 Tim Massaquoi 6-4 249 5th/Sr.
89 Tyler Ecker 6-6 249 Sr./Jr.
84 Kevin Murphy 6-5 253 Sr./Jr.
85 Mike Massey 6-4 216 So./Fr.
fall Carson Butler 6-6 230 Fr./Fr.
w/o Matt Studenski 6-4 227 5th/Sr.

This tight end unit returns pretty much intact and will be relied upon to step up this spring. Returning starter Tim Massaquoi didn't post the type of numbers many expected (18 receptions, 184 yards) due to a true freshman quarterback and the shifted focus on the receivers; but that was still good enough to earn him All-Big Ten honors. Now as he heads into his senior season, he is poised to do even more.

Massaquoi, who was a receiver in high school, has the deep speed to stretch coverages and his hands have been ever improving. The area he needs to most improve is his drive blocking and block recognition. He had mental lapses in the past with letting pass rushers slip by him and he's never been a dominant run blocker but he has gotten better every year. Massaquoi looked pretty sharp in spring practice and he is going to need to maintain his solid performances to hold off junior Tyler Ecker.

Ecker was one of the most impressive offensive players in spring practice and like Massaquoi, shows the athleticism to gain the respect of safeties deep. He also works the seams of a coverage very well. Ecker shows great catching mechanics and has made some very clutch plays in the past few seasons for the Wolverines. Tyler isn't going to over power many at the line of scrimmage, but he and Massaquoi are two excellent receiving options in a two tight end set.

Kevin Murphy, who was a solid recruit coming out of high school, has yet to record a catch as a Wolverine due in part to his constant battle with injuries. Murphy was reduced to seeing mostly special teams action last year, but is looking to solidify himself as the third tight end on the depth chart this year. Murphy may win some playing time if he proves himself as a blocker, which is a trait of needed at this position. The key with him is staying healthy. That should enable him to see increased playing time this year.

Behind Murphy is redshirt freshman Mike Massey. The younger brother of senior defensive tackle Pat Massey is very athletic but is still filling out his frame and gaining strength. The question is will he be able to maintain his speed and agility once he puts on some weight. Massey looked excellent in practice and he may be the fastest tight end on the roster. Whether he will see any playing time is up in the air. He is quick and has good hands, but until he gets bigger he's going to be a liability blocking in the running game.

Incoming recruit Carson Butler will most likely redshirt this season while walk-on Matt Studenski returns for his final campaign.

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