Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski breaks down new wideouts, where they could fit in
The Michigan football team loses two of its top receivers, and questions abound regarding its crop of returners.
There is opportunity for playing time. Two recruits will try to seize it.
Wideouts Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson will join the team this summer and immediately vie to fill the void left by the departures of Junior Hemingway, who graduated, and Darryl Stonum, who was kicked off the team.
Michigan also will be without receivers Martavious Odoms, who contributed in the return games as well, and Kelvin Grady.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Jerald Robinson and Jeremy Jackson will be the leading candidates among current players for that spot, but neither has played much in his career. That puts them in the same pool as two talented freshmen.
Michigan wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski is particularly enamored with Darboh, a four-star wideout who was born in Sierra Leone and, after his parents died in a civil war there, moved to Des Moines, Iowa.
He stands 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and has been clocked as low as 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash. If those numbers are accurate, that makes him a physical specimen just a week after turning 18 years old.
"When Amara walks in the room, you say, ‘Wow, that’s what a Michigan wide receiver should look like,'" Hecklinski said. "I’m talking big, thick, big hands, thoroughbred looking."
Darboh had surgery to repair a torn labrum on Dec. 10, but is expected to be at full health for the start of summer workouts.
He'll be competing with Chesson, who, like Darboh, hails from Africa. He is a native of Liberia, which borders Sierra Leone in Western Africa. He later moved to St. Louis, where he became a three-star prospect.
Michigan historian Greg Dooley, who runs mvictors.com, said he believes this is the first time the Wolverines have ever brought in two players from that continent in the same recruiting class.
Chesson is "more of a track kid" than Darboh, Hecklinski said. In fact, he was a sprinter for Ladue High School and posted a 37.44 time in the 300-meter hurdles last year. That was the 11th-best time in the country.
Rivals lists his 40-yard dash time as 4.5 seconds.
"He’s more lengthy, more of a long strider," Hecklinski said. "Amara’s more powerful. Amara’s going to run through ya, Jehu is going to run around ya, but both have the ability to get deep.
"You don’t have to be fast to be a deep threat. You have to be physical, and you have to be able to go up and catch the ball, and both those kids can do that."
Hemingway was a maestro last year on the deep balls. Roundtree and Gallon showed to be capable on them — Roundtree with great timing and body control, and Gallon with a terrific vertical leap — but it was neither's forte.
Chesson, or especially Darboh, could fill that role.