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Posted on Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Tight ends? A fullback? Michigan football team continues evolution with latest recruiting class

By Kyle Meinke

The Michigan football team's offense hummed along last year, hardly missing a beat despite installing a new spread-West Coast hybrid scheme.

But, there's no question offensive coordinator Al Borges -- and, by extension, head coach Brady Hoke -- still plans to eventually ditch the shotgun-heavy offense in favor of a more traditional pro-style scheme once quarterback Denard Robinson graduates.

That means, first and foremost, Michigan must restock at positions such as tight end and fullback, which were neglected under former coach Rich Rodriguez.

Borges said Michigan got what it needed in its latest recruiting haul, which includes two tight ends and one fullback. It's the first time since 2001 the Wolverines have taken at least three players from those two positions.


Two tight end recruits will battle to replace senior captain Kevin Koger.

Melanie Maxell |

"I don’t think there are any holes," Borges said Wednesday. "We’re evolving still. As we go, we’ll fill our needs and, if for some reason we didn’t get a guy, or as many guys at one position (we would have liked), we’ll just go out and get that position next year."

Borges said "it's always a challenge" to recruit tight ends and fullbacks for an offense that is not yet being run, but said his long track record with coaching pro-style offenses helped his sell.

"My history is such that it’s easy," added Borges, who has coordinated offenses at nine schools spanning 25 seasons. "You can pull out things (on film). And there are things that are pro-style (in the offense already), so it’s not far removed."

Michigan's only tight end commit in the previous three years was Chris Barnett in 2011, but he did not even make it through fall camp before leaving the program. That makes Kevin Koger and Brandon Moore, who arrived in 2008, the Wolverines' most recent tight end additions (although receiver Ricardo Miller has since been converted to the position).

Koger and second tight end Steve Watson completed their eligibility last season. Barnett's gone, as well, and Michigan also lost tight end Pharaoh Brown from its 2012 class.

That means the Wolverines' two-man tight end recruiting class is paramount to the future success of the new offense.

A.J. Williams of Cincinnati and Devin Funchess of Farmington Hills Harrison will be leaned upon, perhaps as soon as next year. The team's most experienced returner, the redshirt senior Moore, has only two career catches.

Williams could see the field first. He's 6-foot-6, 275 pounds and although his pass-catching lags, he could be plugged in right away as a blocking tight end.

Hoke called him "a very physical young lad at the point of attack."

"That position is so important and, with Kevin leaving, (he's needed)," added offensive line coach Darrell Funk, who dispelled rumors Williams might slide over to tackle. "A.J.’s a dominant run blocker and he’s got a great skill set, but he’s coming here to play tight end."

Funchess is more of the Koger mold -- an athletic, pass-catching tight end. However, he needs polish and bulk up (he's listed at 6-foot-4, 206 pounds, although Hoke said he's closer to 220) before he cracks the rotation.

"He’s a little bit of a hybrid-type player, and I think he brings a lot to the table as a receiver," Borges said. "As he gets sturdier, more overall strength -- because he’s explosive enough to be a good blocker, too -- as he gets bigger, he could be the total package."

Funchess and Williams are expected to have important roles in shepherding Michigan's transition from the spread to the pro-style offense, especially with the crater left on the depth chart by the departures of Koger, Watson, Barnett and Brown.

Same goes for Sione Houma, who is the Wolverines' first true fullback recruit since Saline High School's Vince Helmuth in 2007.

Converted tailback Stephen Hopkins will return next year for his junior season, and Houma likely will redshirt. But, he appears to be the heir apparent at fullback, considering the lack of options at that position

"Within the offense, we really need to get ourselves some fullback-type bodies," Hoke said. "He's an extremely strong, physical guy."

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


Ted Bundy

Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

ted at 3:07 PM on February 5, 2012 "However you are not going to be able to keep up with faster offenses loaded with playmakers. Whats Michigans future ....A qb who is no threat to run. Bigger slower WRs who are not Yard after catch guys. Those are your athletic play-makers? Compare that to what Florida had when Meyer coached them. Its night and day. The new offense Michigan plans to install will not be able to keep up." Ted? Did you not watch the 2007 Capital One Bowl where that big fat slow Carr team beat URBAN MEYER, Tim Tebow and all those fast strong playmaking $EC players?!?! I mean, come on buddy, at least do your research if you you are gonna pretend like you follow college football...


Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

An aberration. Tebow was a freshman and they didn't take ole pokey slow Michigan seriously. A team that got whipped by Appalachia state (along with loses to Oregon State, Wisconsin and Ohio) didn't redeem itself y beating a freshman quarterback (who never could throw) with a senior quarterback.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

Borges is building Shane Morris' team, plain and simple. I hope he spends significant time developing Robinson's quarterbacking skills during the offseason, as I see Michigan having signifcant trouble if he can't make those simple passes that he struggled with this season. Otherwise, Borges will have a team ready to utilize Morris' incredible passing ability in 2013. If you haven't, youtube Shane Morris, or read the articles about him on ESPN. This kid is already busting his butt for Michigan a year out.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

I love it going back into Retro football.They way it was played 20 years ago.First of many stupid statements by Al uncle fester Borges.I don't think there are any holes.Really now.Like i said many times on here,this is why when you venture out into THE NONE BIG 10 FOOTBALL WORLD.BOWL GAMES. You get it handed to you always,by Faster, Quicker,Teams.Need i bring up APPY.State IN THE BIG HOUSE.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

It's easy to blame speed on the Appalachian State loss and subsequent loss to Oregon. While that was a factor, I think it came down to that the team was not mentally nor physically prepared, which is why Coach Carr was not at the helm the following season. There were many mistakes early on that season. That team "woke up" after that game and came up short against Ohio State from winning the Big Ten and a trip to the Rosebowl. Remember, that very same slow team that lost to Appalachian State, beat Urban Meyer's defending national champions heisman-winning Tim Tebow-led Florida Gators that were known for their quickness and their spread offense.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 6:45 a.m.

Yea, because RR never lost any games against weak opponents.. RR in his 3rd year was embarrassed by middle of the road SEC school, while the same year Carr lost to App state they went on to a bowl win against a great Gator team.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Tight ends? A fullback? Big deal, you're suppose to recruit the players you need to run the style offense you prefer, nothing new there. Just because they recruit these positions and change to a pro-style offense does not mean the offense is going to improve, you can win or lose with either. Alabama didn't win the NC just because they used a pro-style set, they won with an athletic, strong and fast defense. The key to either offense is that your personnel must coincide with your play calling, and an effective scheme. This is where AB has to adjust, the pass plays were ineffective last year, not solely because of DR, but mainly poor scheme. Review the VT game, that 3rd and 13 pass DR threw to JH for a TD, JH was open but there were 2 other WR's within 10 yards, so that brought 2 extra defenders also in that same 10 yard space, that's 6 players, so not any separation. Most pro-style QB's would have been sacked or thrown the ball out of bounds. There was not a check-off ( out of the back field ) receiver, a WR at the 1st down marker and RoyR completely out of the play. I saw a few times where, when DR had set his feet the WR's ( all ) backs were still towards him, there wasn't much sync or chemistry in the passing game, I don't care what they convert to, if AB don't correct this, it will not matter. DR was the focus of DC's, not AB's play calling ( scheme ).

Terry Star21

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

"I don't think there are any holes," Borges said Wednesday. "We're evolving still. As we go, we'll fill our needs and, if for some reason we didn't get a guy, or as many guys at one position (we would have liked), we'll just go out and get that position next year." This is why Michigan is Michigan - the number one football program historically in the nation. This is why there are never any so-called -recruiting 'losses' here, all positives now that the three year nightmare coach is gone and why outsiders from up north and down south always stalk our site in fear. Michigan recruiting, Michigan coaching, and Michigan football results are the best since 2007 (pre-nightmare years) when we won our last bowl and our moving forward again with our Sugar Bowl BCS win. Our great coaches took the same athletes (that had no direction) and shaped them physically and mentally into Champions - because the stayed. I'm not sure I have ever been more excited with anticipation to see what they can do with their new recruits and our current improved players. I sure hope the new renovations @ Schembechler Hall are completed before next January and a place is reserved for some Crystal. MgoBlueForTiM.........Michigan is Michiga, the best keeps moving forward


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 6:42 a.m.

Well ted, as you stated Borges was only successful while running the read option. NO KIDDING, its an offense built by RR to run the read option. The reason why Hoke and Co. are leaps and bounds better than RR is because they realized this, and played to their teams strength. Unlike RR in his first year, when he decided to run his offense anyways, and led UM to a MISERABLE 3 win season. The best teams in the B1G always run some sort of power offense. Its clear to see, just open your eyes. MSU and UW played power football, and OSU under the vest ran a lot of shotgun, but still had big O lines and big backs. That's how football is played and won in the B1G, if you want to watch a bunch of spread option football and no defense go watch Arizona next year.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

Christal ? Not with Fat Albert Borges behind the wheel. The ONLY success Michigans offense had this year was through running the read option. WHENEVER they tried to use the pro-style it failed miserably. Depending on what Fat Albert 5 decides to do with the offense next year Michigan is looking at a 5 loss season. The year after that is when things will go horribly wrong and there will be talk about who next to hire.

Terry Star21

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

Okay, sorry, last sentence - Michigan is Michigan

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 6:21 p.m.

Any article about Michigan football--ANY--and the usual suspects reappear with their man crushes for the pitiful failure who was the head coach for three years (one of whom feels the necessity to slander a Hall of Fame coach in order to elevate the WCiMFH). Get over it, boys and girls. He's gone. He's at Arizona State, now. So time to decide: Are you fans of the football team or fans of the WCiMFH? If it's the latter, I'm sure that the Arizona Republic will welcome your comments on their web page. GN&GL


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

Yeah ... billboards with his face are all over town here in Tucson. Construction cranes tower over the north end of the stadium as they begin building the new facilities Rodriguez requested. The recruiting class for UofA was listed as 45th by ESPN. UofA is in the same Pac-12 division as USC, which is going to be a tough road in 2012. Oregon in the north is always tough, Washington State has an offense-crazy new coach (Mike Leach) and Stanford pulled off a *great* recruiting class. In short ... no cake walk for RR.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

My Bad--and quite right. GN&GL


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

Actually, Rich Rod is at Arizona, not ASU.

Matt Patercsak

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 3:51 p.m.

Love it. Love it. Love it. Pro style offense mixed with dominating D is unstoppable. If you don't want to watch the Michigan offense get under center, and blow people off the ball, then my guess is you havent been a fan of Michigan football for very long. Im sure you can order Pac12 network to watch Rich Rod and his arizona wildcats for a decent price.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

JUB's book is full of rumor and innuendo, double- and triple-hearsay. He offers not one piece of first-hand evidence--NOT ONE--to substantiate his scurrilous charges. He needs to change his profession from journalist to Harlequin novelist. Because much like those who read Harlequin novels, only those who believe in fairy tales believe what he has written. GN&GL

Lorain Steelmen

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

GoBigBlue. You only discount Bacon's book, because it refutes your preconceived agenda & conclusions. We all understand that. Incidentally, Bacon references to a former tackle, Dan Dierdorf, from the '69 team, that openly called Carr, a 'care taker'. Like Dan, I have been appalled by what Carr has done to our program. I hold him primarily responsible, for the split in the Michigan family that was created when RR arrived. Full disclosure, I would NOT have hired RR, but once here, I felt he deserved to be supported. It's as simple as that. I also supported Carr, from the time he took over in '95, although I felt Gary Moehler SHOULD have been retained in did Bo, at the time. ( (It was Moeller that hired Hoke in '95, NOT Carr.) It was a long 13 years, watching as the UM program underachieved. Particularly, the period from '01 to '07. Finally, the Appalachia State game, mercifully brought all that to an end. Incidentally, 'Ted's' comment is correct. You CAN have a strong defense with a spread offense. Sure, I will continue to support Borges, since he is the OC now. But I also note, that his offense was woefully unprepared this year, vs msu and iowa. Also, just for the record, I was one of the few on here, that felt UM COULD go 11-2, in 2011, IF, 'they stayed reasonably healthy.' I was not then, and am NOT now, ever going to accept mediocracy, in lieu of excellence! And that was one of Carr's failings....Carr accepted mediocracy. Bo would NEVER accept that attitude. And that is the why Dierdorf, called Carr out, in Bacon's book. Finally, I think Hoke shares that desire for EXCELLENCE, that drove both Bo & Mo. Accordingly, I will support him. And you can ask Diediorf, if he agrees....I think he will. As for Carr, he needs to stop patting himself on the back, move to Florida and spend his time golfing....but Lloyd, please stay the heck away from AA.

Matt Patercsak

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

@Scott the national champion crimson tide use a pro style offense. apparently football hasn't evolved too much. there will always be room for power in football. the day someone gets cute and spreads the field on D, is when you run right up the gut.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Spread with a dominating d is unstoppable too. You dont have to run a pro-style to have a dominating d. Its really about getting the ball to your play-makers. Michigan under the command of" fat albert borgess" has stopped recruiting playmakers.

Terry Star21

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

Matt and GoBlue..good job, you're right on. We have moved on from the three year nightmare coach....things are looking good and yes there will always be outsiders stalking our site, making outrageous insane comments because; Michigan is the best and they are very, very frightened...


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Loraine, you must know some people on the inside to so confidently continue to state how Carr "undermined RR behind the scenes". Who gave you these FACTS? And I will not except the writer of a certain book that currently sits on shelves FOR SALE. That to me is not credible. I see no need for the constant badmouthing of a hall of fame coach who won Michigan it's only NC in the modern era. Show some respect. As far as football goes, I too was board with the dull play calling of Mike Deborg in the latter years of Carrs tenure. But I believe Borges is much more dynamic than Deborg was. And even with Pro-style ball, the offense can be dynamic. Picture Harbaugh at Stanford. Lots of playaction and creative play calling. I would love to have a good pocket passer who can run when needed. But we have to have more meat in the trenches. This program is headed in the right direction in my humble opinion.

Lorain Steelmen

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

Scott beat me to it. It's not the X's and O's, it the Billy's and Joe's. Lloyd Carr teams from 2001 to 2007 were a continuous slide downward! Carr will forever be known as the 'Appalachia State losing coach'. Despite having Henne, Hart, Long et al. Then to make matters worse, carr actively undermind the guy that replaced him. The more I think about it, he wanted to make sure that the RR contoversy drown out his opwn shortcomins. Back to the matter at hand, without DROb, UM does NOT go 11-2. And you can count on Urban Meyer to shake things up in Columbus. He may, or may not succeed, but three yards and a cloud of dust, is over at osu. Look for Braxton Miller to try to out DRob, DRob!


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

LLoyd Carr loses to Appalachia State, Utah, Oregon. Speed matters too. Football evolves.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

Sounds like the pieces are being put back in proper order. These 2012 recruits although sounding like a steller class will for the most part take some to mature into what they are capable of. This coming season could very well taper off with the loss of some seasoned Wolverines and the first year of a retooled team and if we don't have as good a season as 2011 I hope the Mich. faithful are patient and supportive to these new kids as well as the already established team, It's important.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Thank you, Kyle, for posing the questions: Tight ends? A fullback? Theo shall now provide the answer: Citrus Bowl. (Look no further than what Meyer is doing in C-bus. We either change our philosophy soon, or we have no chance).


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

Meyer's recruiting class was made up *entirely* of slot and wide receivers. He's going total offense, baby ... total offense! Yeah! (Note -- "DT" and "DE" next to the recruit's name means "Doing Touchdowns" and "Doing Everything." It has nothing to do with defense.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

However you are not going to be able to keep up with faster offenses loaded with playmakers. Whats Michigans future ....A qb who is no threat to run. Bigger slower WRs who are not Yard after catch guys. Those are your athletic play-makers? Compare that to what Florida had when Meyer coached them. Its night and day. The new offense Michigan plans to install will not be able to keep up.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

I agree !!! This offense is being installed to do one thing. That is to keep Hoke and Fat Albert Borgess employed at Michigan as long as they field above average teams. Its a safe offense. Alabama won the NC despite an ineffective offense because they had as dominating D loaded with first round draft choices.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

LSU runs pro style and they couldn't move the ball on Alabama. You could make the point that Alabama's defense had more to do with their national championship win. Can Michigan recruit as well as Alabama. No way. Why because Alabama is in the SEC. They over recruit and then get rid of kids if they don't want them. No integrity. No 4 year commitment. The academic standards are almost non existent in the SEC . Alabama will take anyone who can play ball and they will get admitted. So if it's nothing but who has the biggest most athletic guys then we will fall short. Not by a lot but enough. We can compete. But we have to out coach them a bit. Without Denard- no way we go 11-2. Our O lineman are far short of Alabama's. Can you imagine Denard when he had huge holes and all the time in the world? And what about Boise State. 90 to 100 as far as top recruiting classes every year. Yet they beat the VT"s, Georgia, Oklahoma's when they play them. Hell they recruit Rugby players out of England. How do you explain that if it's all who is bigger? Have tight ends and fullbacks. Great. But if we go back to the LLoyd Carr days we are in for some boring mediocre football and we never win a national championship. We'll be lucky to beat Ohio- who regularly lost to SEC teams under sweeter vest.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

I agree with that Matt. I hate to say anything negative at all about Denard because he has so much heart and is so humble. My biggest hope for this season is that he is able to replicate his performances vs Neb and Osu. I love when he runs if the pass is not there. That hurts the D a lot. The designed QB runs are getting eatin up by defenses who stack the box. We need more accuracy and passing threat from Denard.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

It's a little baffling to me how anyone could have so much blind faith in a football scheme. We just watched a staff turn an abysmal team into an 11 game winner! They won a BCS game for crying out loud! Sit back and enjoy the show. Who cares what scheme you think they should run. The obsession with a scheme is robbing you of your chance to enjoy the overall product. That product is good again! Wake up and realize how difficult it is to win 11 games in any season regardless of this scheme or that.

Matt Patercsak

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

yeah, haha dual threat QB is supposed to mean they can beat you with their arms AND their legs. denard is largely a single threat QB, his passing ability was comparable to Chad Henne's rushing ability. He could pick up the first every now and then, but it wasnt his strength haha. Devin Gardener is a little better, but he has no pocket presence and LOVES LOVES LOVES to scramble. his composure is awful. I want to see bellomy get some snaps.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

Matt, I agree with most everything you said. The only thing I wouldn't mind is having a taller pro-style QB who can run a little too. Duel-threat is a bit of a broad term so I don't want to sacrifice passing accuracy and arm strength for lighting speed at the QB position. But I would love if a guy like Shane Morris could scramble when needed. Someone more like Drew Henson over John Navarre would be nice. I agree completely with football being tough and physical. We need bigger, stronger lineman, tightends, fullbacks for sure. Truthfully, I'll support any kind of offense this staff wants to run. They have earned the respect they are getting based on the miraculous job they did with the defense this past season. As well as the overall performance of the team.

Matt Patercsak

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Slot Receivers? Dual threat quarterbacks? answer: Gator Bowl blowout Alabama employs multiple tight ends, a fullback, and huge lineman. its not like the just won a national championship or anything. Theo, how do you expect to win football games without blowing people off the ball. Im not talkin about the Big East teams of the world. I know Ive asked you this before, but this time I would like an answer. You did watch Michigan this year right? Because that was in NO WAY a pro style offense. It was much more of a spread-pro hybrid. i guess its just me and coach hoke, but i always thought football was a tough man's game.