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Michigan freshman tight end expected to make big jump

The future of the tight end room is looking good for Michigan football.



freshman tight end, tight end, Jim Harbaugh, Michigan football
Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates on the sideline after beating Ohio State Buckeyes 42-27 in a NCAA College football at Michigan Stadium at Ann Arbor, Mi on November 27, 2021. Osu21um Kwr 34

Elite tight end play and the Michigan football program have become synonymous over the last few years. This rings especially true since coach Jim Harbaugh joined the program, consistently sending players from that position to the NFL year after year. The list ranges from Jake Butt in 2016 to Luke Schoonmaker this past season. Now, it appears the Wolverines may have found yet another future example in freshman tight end Zack Marshall.

The freshman tight end was elite in high school

From the moment Michigan football offered Zack Marshall in July 2022, it was clear that he was ready to be a Wolverine. He committed to the program just a couple of weeks later and never waivered from his commitment, officially signing on with the maize and blue in December 2022.

Coming out of high school, he was rated as a three-star prospect out of California. According to 247Sports, he was the No. 541 player and the No. 33 athlete in the country. He was listed as the No. 45 player in California, a state known to consistently produce some of the best talent in the country each year. He’s currently listed at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and consistently shows elite athleticism while on the football field.

In his junior season, he recorded 44 receptions for 1,012 yards and nine touchdowns at Santa Fe Christian. Unfortunately, his senior year was shortened as he transferred schools and was required to sit out his first four games. Despite this, he still recorded 23 catches for 284 yards, five touchdowns and one passing touchdown.

Jim Harbaugh had some high praise for Marshall

Every year, it comes as no surprise when coach Jim Harbaugh goes out of his way to talk about each of the incoming freshmen following National Signing Day. Still, when he goes as far as comparing an incoming to a current leader on the Michigan football team, it’s hard not to take notice.

“He’s one of these 17-year-olds that we — you just got to say if they’re 17 compared to somebody who’s 18 or 19, they’ve got another year man growth,” Harbaugh began while talking about freshman tight end back in December. “When they can be as good as somebody who’s a year older or two years older, because a lot of kids these days, they read that book by Malcolm Gladwell, I think, and I guess parents are smart to do that, but doesn’t mean we don’t have to be dumb and know that — we know their ages. And you know when a 17-year-old’s as good or better than 18 or 19 year olds, he’s gonna get better than that 18- and 19-year-old and it’s going to happen fast.”

“Because the year of man-growth comes around 18, 19 years old,” he continued. “And Rod Moore would be a terrific example of that. I mean, Rod Moore, three-star — what, you’re missing out on the five-star who’s 19 years old, I’m looking at and going I’ll take Rod Moore, because I know if he was gonna stay in high school for two more years, he probably be a five-star by the time he was a senior. But I know he’s gonna be — and as a matter of fact, Rod Moore started here as a freshman. So, it happens quick.”

Will Zack Marshall end up starting his freshman year? Likely, no. He didn’t get on the field for the spring game, and this probably comes due to depth in the tight end room. Still, he has the pieces to become a special player in a year or two. Only time will tell, but if Harbaugh is confident, I am too.

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A recent graduate from Kalamazoo College, Tyler has four years experience in sports writing. He currently works as assistant editor for Blue By Ninety and specializes in a variety of sports such as football, swimming and diving, and basketball.