interesting: Michigan TE Colston Loveland ranks No. 2 behind….

With nearly all of the Wolverines’ 2023 offensive playmakers heading to the NFL Draft, one returning pass catcher has still been drawing some major praise this offseason. This pattern continued on Monday when Max Chadwick of PFF released a ranking of the ‘Top 10 tight end prospects if everyone in college football was eligible’ (I’ll give you three guesses as to who was featured).

That would be none other than Michigan’s Colston Loveland.

Last season, Loveland was a terror for opposing defenses. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and a second-teamer from the media. The Idaho native ranked second on the team with 649 receiving yards and totaled four touchdowns on 45 catches. Those same 649 receiving yards are also the most by any Michigan tight end in a season since two-time All-American Jake Butt recorded 654 in 2015.

“Loveland went from a promising freshman to one of the nation’s best tight ends as a sophomore,” PFF’s Max Chadwick wrote. “He finished as the fourth-most valuable FBS tight end this past season according to PFF’s wins above average metric and was fifth among them in receiving yards (649).

“Loveland’s elite athleticism at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds makes him nearly unguardable. His 88.7 percent open-target rate in 2023 placed him in the 97th percentile for all tight ends in the country.”

The hype surrounding Loveland is nothing new to followers of Michigan. At Big Ten Media Days last summer, former head coach Jim Harbaugh famously anointed the Michigan tight end as a “once-in-a-generation” type of player at the position.

“I think the secret’s out. He is really, really good,” Harbaugh said of Loveland.

Last season, Loveland split time with transfer AJ Barner, but made big leaps and bounds during his sophomore year. Of 53 tight ends with at least 40 targets, the Gooding native finished eighth with a PFF receiving grade of 80.5. Pro Football Focus also notes that Loveland posted an 88.7 percent open-target rate in 2023, putting him in the 97th percentile for all tight ends in the nation.

As one of J.J. McCarthy’s most reliable targets the past two seasons, Loveland is expected to be the centerpiece of Michigan’s passing game next season with the Wolverines losing their top two wideouts in Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson. He’ll be considered one of the top tight end prospects in next year’s draft.

Former Georgia tight end Brock Bowers has largely been regarded as the best tight end in college football for years, but he however is eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft. With Bowers, Texas’ Ja’Tavion Sanders, and others no longer in college, the door will open for Loveland to take over as one of the top pass-catchers in the country.

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