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Michigan football breakout candidate and more identified at Big Ten Media Day

These Michigan football stars could have breakout seasons this fall.



Michigan football, Colston Loveland, AJ Barner, Jim Harbaugh, Breakout candidate
Dec 31, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Colston Loveland (18) against the TCU Horned Frogs during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS, IN. — Today, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh had a chance to speak at the Wolverines’ Big Ten Media Day segment. There, Harbaugh appeared to identify AJ Barner as a breakout candidate for Michigan football, along with several other standouts like Colston Loveland. These players are expected to play significant roles for the Maize and Blue offense in 2023.

New transfer could become a Michigan football breakout candidate alongside other tight ends

After the 2022 season, the need for another top-tier tight end was clear to Jim Harbaugh and Michigan football. Consequently, the Wolverines delved into the transfer portal and found a perfect fit in AJ Barner, a long-time Big Ten standout who perfectly suits Michigan’s on-field needs. Now, it seems that Barner, along with a few other tight ends like sophomore Colston Loveland, is poised for a huge year this fall.

“Colston Loveland, I know I’m on camera here,” Jim Harbaugh said at Big Ten Media Day today. “The longer it takes him to realize how good he is, the better off he’ll probably be. But I think the secrets out, he is really, really good.

“AJ Barner has been a great addition to our team,” Harbaugh continued. “We’ll have two really great players there (with Loveland and Barner). Matt Hibner and Max Bredeson. Four outstanding guys. Marlin Klein’s coming.”

With receiver depth looking a bit thin right now, rising junior quarterback JJ McCarthy, whom Jim Harbaugh described as a “once-in-a-generation” type of quarterback earlier today, may need to rely more on AJ Barner, Colston Loveland, and the other tight ends this year. Additionally, these rising star Wolverines will be essential for the offense when it comes to run-blocking, as they appear poised to dominate in this fall.

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CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball. Right now, CJ is the publisher of Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. Previously, CJ has made stops with Fansided, The Michigan Daily, and more.