Jeremy Gallon

Michigan ditching ‘Legends’ jerseys, will re-retire iconic numbers

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One of the more controversial and clunky decisions of the Dave Brandon era at Michigan will officially come to an end this season.

Tuesday afternoon, UM announced that it plans on re-retiring the uniform numbers of seven of its football legends: Gerald Ford (#48), Tom Harmon (#98), Ron Kramer (#87), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47) and the Wistert brothers (#11) — Albert, Alvin and Whitey.  The jerseys associated with what are dubbed the Michigan Football Legends will be taken out of circulation as well.

The re-retirement ceremony will take place Nov. 28 prior to the annual grudge match with rival Ohio State.

Additionally, the No. 21 worn by Desmond Howard in a career that included a Heisman Trophy will be officially retired during the same ceremony. The initial decision to begin unretiring the jersey numbers began nearly four years ago under Brandon, as mlive.com explained:

Brandon started the Legends program during Howard’s Hall of Fame ceremony in early 2011. At the time, Howard’s No. 21 was the only number to receive the “Michigan Football Legend” distinction. Any player wearing the No. 21 during this time (Junior Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon were the only two) donned a commemorative patch on their uniform and sat in a specialized locker honoring the “Legend” player.

However, over the next four years, Michigan slowly began to bring all of its previous five retired uniforms back out of circulation, handing them to individual players who were selected by then coach Brady Hoke.

Following Brandon’s ouster and under interim athletic Jim Hackett, momentum grew for the jersey numbers to be tucked back in their rightful places.

“During the search process for our new football coach, I had a meeting with the Michigan Football team, and they expressed their feelings associated with wearing these legendary jerseys,” Hackett said in a statement. “At one end of the spectrum they are awed by the legacy of the men that wore them, and at the other end of the spectrum, and as part of a team sport, they wondered why we would call attention to one of our team members. I brought this issue to our new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He agreed with me that it needed a review. I then talked to the families of these great Michigan players. I called them directly and laid out the paradox of seeing players as a team and the due respect to these individual great players.

“The right plan is to retire them and display them in Towsley Museum which is connected to Schembechler Hall. Because we don’t have the display area inside the stadium, we have found a high-profile area on the concourse where fans can see and honor these retired jerseys.”

The only current player who will be impacted by the move is Desmond Morgan, who has worn No. 48 since 2012.

Michigan’s Funchess passes on post-Hoke era, declares for NFL Draft

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The search for a new head coach is still ongoing in Ann Arbor. Now the search for a new go-to receiver will officially begin for the Michigan Wolverines as well. Devin Funchess has announced he will pass on his final year of eligibility at Michigan and enter the NFL Draft in 2015.

“I would like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for their support,” said Funchess in a statement released by Michigan on Tuesday. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and I am prepared to take the next step in my journey.”

Funchess led the Wolverines with 733 receiving yards on 62 receptions in 2014. He accounted for four touchdowns after moving from tight end to wide receiver for Michigan. The Wolverines were in need of help at receiver this season, and Funchess brought good size and hands to the position after serving as a tight end for the Wolverines prior to this year. In 2013, Funchess was Michigan’s second-leading receiver with 748 yards and six touchdowns. He served as a high-caliber compliment to Michigan’s leading receiver, Jeremy Gallon in 2013.

So, will Funchess pursue a career in the NFL as a wide receiver or a tight end? Odds are Funchess will be scouted and drafted as a wide receiver, and he should be expected to go in the first two rounds to a team in need of help catching the football.

Michigan committed with Devin Funchess at wide receiver

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One of the big questions for Michigan’s offense in 2014 might have been who will replace wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, who helped to rewrite the school record books last fall. With a little bit of a depth concern at the position, Michigan looked to all-Big Ten tight end Devin Funchess to move to a wide receiver position this spring, and he continues to see all of his practice time coming on the outside rather than the tight end position.

“Right now it’s 100 percent outside,” Funchess said Sunday, according to MLive.com. “I don’t know what they’re going to do during the season, how that’s going to work out, but right now, I’m just 100 percent outside.”

Funchess set a school record by a tight end with 748 receiving yards last fall. Together with Gallon, the two set a school record for most combined receiving yards in a single season, passing former Wolverines Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. Moving Funchess to wide receiver is not as much of a reach as it may seem at first glance, because he does offer some veteran leadership at the key position. He also adds some size to the position that should be just as viable a target in the passing game as any for Michigan.

Michigan is hoping to get the most out of some younger receivers this season as well. Freddy Canteen was impressive in the spring and could be ready for some decent playing time in the fall. Redshirt sophomore Jehu Chesson appears to be the third likely starter for the Michigan receivers, with the rest of the roster jockeying for position on the depth chart for the fall. Dennis Norfleet figures to be capable of playing into the mix as a top reserve and potentially get some first team reps as well.

So who is the likely replacement at tight end? That appears to be in the hands of Jake Butt, a sophomore who finished the 2013 season third on the team in receiving with 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Indiana WR Cody Latimer turning pro, Big Ten losing top seven receivers to NFL

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The Big Ten’s third-leading receiver, Cody Latimer, is leaving the Indiana Hoosiers behind to become eligible for the NFL Draft. Latimer made his decision official Wednesday.

Latimer led the Hoosiers with 1,096 receiving yards, just the third Big Ten player to record a 1,000-yard season in 2013. According to Rotoworld, Latimer has an agent and is training in Florida for upcoming workouts ahead of the draft.

The Big Ten is now officially losing the top seven receivers from 2013 to the NFL. Penn State’s Allen Robinson declared a year early for the NFL Draft after leading the conference in receiving for a second straight season. Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon is graduating. So is Illinois receiver Steven Hull, Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis, Indiana’s Kofi Hughes and Nebraska’s Quincy Enunwa.

Needless to say, there will be some big shoes to fill around the Big Ten in 2014.

Michigan offense stinking it up again versus Nebraska

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One week after putting up negative 16 rushing yards and 168 total yards in a 29-6 loss to Michigan State, the once-prolific Michigan offense is once again stinking it up in the first half against Nebraska.

Perhaps the ferocious Spartans defense permanently broke the Wolverines offense, because what was once one of the top teams in the nation in scoring and total offense a couple weeks ago, is now looking like one of the worst.

Michigan totaled just 60 yards of offense in the first half against the Cornhuskers, including minus 10 yards on the ground. The Wolverines’ leading rusher was receiver Jeremy Gallon, who gained 12 yards on a reverse.

On a bright note, the rushing yardage total is an improvement over last week, when Michigan had an atrocious negative 48 yards against the Spartans. And the Wolverines are only down, 10-3, against the Cornhuskers at the half, so there’s still time for quarterback Devin Gardner — who was 7 of 10 for 70 yards in the first 30 minutes — to figure things out.

But if he doesn’t, that’ll be three losses in four games for Michigan and end whatever chance the Wolverines had of winning the Big Ten Legends division.