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Posted on Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski breaks down new wideouts, where they could fit in

By Kyle Meinke

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.


Michigan wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski on incoming freshman Amara Darboh: "When Amara walks in the room, you say, ‘Wow, that’s what a Michigan wide receiver should look like.' "

Melanie Maxwell |

That means top returners Roy Roundtree, who will be a senior, and Jeremy Gallon, a junior, have starting spots locked down. But, they also stand 6-foot and 5-8, respectively, which means the Wolverines will lack size as they search for a third starter.

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, 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.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 11:33 a.m.

The BIG QUESTION is: Will they be graduating from UM in 4 years, or even in 5 or 6? That should be the underlying reason as to why someone attends this institution. Not just to provide entertainment in the Bighouse (and hopefully not the jailhouse). UM has produces many great scholar-athletes, but then too many of the opposite have been in the news lately. Let us hope that these two young men's names are last read in the big house for an event other that a football game


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

News like this probably has Pat Narduzzi shaking in his boots up in East Lansing...LOL! Looked like the best receiver in the Splenda Bowl was the Walverine long snapper! That futile attempt to execute "Little Giant" was "cute". Just like cHOKE had it drawn up, huh? The SPARTAN DRIVE FOR 5 IS ALIVE!


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

Both these kids sound really promising as receivers. Darboh sounds a lot like Jason Avant size-wise, but maybe faster. If he turns out anything like Avant, I'll be ecstatic. I think Devin Funchess will be tough to keep off the field from what I've heard. He may not be big enough right away to play TE, but they could easily put him out there as a big 4th receiver on certain plays. With that kind of height and running ability, it will help Denard a lot by giving him a bigger target.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

It sounds like these guys have some speed. Nice. I'm especially glad Michigan got Northfleet- if only for the return game. Size is great when combined with speed. Without it your offense looks great; then you meet a really top team and you look like LSU in the national championship game or the Patriots receivers in the super bowl. Explosive players like Denard allow a team to win games they shouldn't- like Notre Dame. Everyone talks abut when Morris arrives- and he may be the next Tom Brady if he has good receivers. Still, I think Devin Gardner may be exceptional in 2013. He was a 5 star dual threat recruit. The top in the country. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2013 offense if fantastic; a great mix of speed and power. Maybe Gardner will get a lot of playing time in the early blowouts against teams like U Mass and Air Force. Truthfully I hope the NCAA gives him a fifth year and they red shirt Morris next year. I hope Mr. Borges keeps to the philosophy of running the offense to best utilize the players. If there is one thing RR showed- it's that a foolish consistency to "philosophy" in coaching leads to disaster. Michigan's 11-2 season was a testament to flexibility. Did Mr. Borges embraced it or was it forced upon him after the losses to Iowa and MSU? I don't know.

Silly Sally

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.

The BIG QUESTION is: will they be graduating from UM in 4 years, or even in 5 or 6? That should be the underlying reason as to why someone attends this institution.


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 7:29 a.m.

As excited as I am to see someone like Morris play at UM, I also would love to see what Gardner can do with a season or two as the stater. With his skill set he could also provide a bridge from the spread oriented offense currently being used to the Pro set Morris will run.

Irvine CA

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

I was thinking about Denard Robinson's future NFL career, we might want to have him more familiar at receiving the ball, especially in a Statue of Liberty play with Garner as QB.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

Statue of liberty play? We are Michigan. We don't do gimmicks. We just line up and over power em. Besides, that will never works. Oh wait...Boise state vs. Oklahoma...never mind.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Mr. Meinke, I thought your WR article was well presented and informative giving info on a definite area of need. Keep it up, please. I do have a further comment, however. I missed the news that someone at U-M put a foot into Stonum's can, derriere, azz, etc. to remove him from the team. Please stick to news unsalted with your personal editorial comment. Stonum was removed not "kicked" off the team.


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 7:24 a.m.

I think "kicked" off the team works just fine for someone who was removed for criminal offenses..


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

"Kicked off" the team is accurate and more vibrant writing than being literal and writing being "removed" from the team. "kicked off" implies a forced departure- which it was. I think the word "removed" indicated physically picking something up and taking it somewhere else. It would be poor writing, inaccurate in a literal sense, and worse of all nauseatingly PC. I want to red more 'kicked off" and less "removed", more "the ball sailed through the air like a wounded duck" and less "the ball failed in it's trajectory". More "Denard burst up the middle leaving defenders flailing on the longest run of his Michigan history" and less "Robinson ran for 99 yards".


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Wolfchen, you're being ridiculous. Being &quot;kicked off&quot; a team is a very common (probably the MOST common) slang phrase for saying that a player was dismissed from the team against his/her will. If you asked 100 different people what happened to Darryl Stonum, at least 95 of them would reply, &quot;He was kicked off the team.&quot; It's perfectly acceptable. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

I meant to say &quot;Everyone uses it, except perhaps you.&quot;

Ted Bundy

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Well the thing about Devin Funchess is that hes 17-18 year kid who is still growing and is about to start a college strength program. When I was 18-19 and in college, I really filled out, I can only imagine that a football player would do the same. So could he play wide reciever RIGHT NOW, yes. But he projects as a TE just because of the inevitable weight gain. I see you're point though.

Matt Patercsak

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Did anyone see the footage of Devin Funchess at the international bowl? he is an outstanding receiver. he struggled with the physicality of tight end, but when he ran routes he was 5 star quality. he was even lined up at wideout where he stood out among the others. he even caught a TD from the WR position. As much as I believe in tight ends, I think Devin should move to WR. he is THAT good.


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 7:22 a.m.

I agree, he's too small for TE, but would make a big WR. He is also very athletic for a guy his size. However, UM is a little thin at TE so they may need him there. I'd like him at WR, but if he bulked up over the next year or two he could be a huge mismatch problem for a defense with that mix of speed and size at TE. Either way, I think he will make some plays for UM.