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April 12, 2013

Jeremy Gallon leads young WR group

After the Michigan football team wrapped up practice Tuesday afternoon, dozens of players mulled around the 50-yard line at the Al Glick Field House.

Some of them were getting extra reps in by themselves, some were just chatting. Ten minutes later, just a few stragglers remained - everyone else had moseyed into the locker room.

The ones that stayed were all young wide receivers, who had migrated over to the corner of the practice facility to methodically catch passes out of a JUGS throwing machine.

Fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon is glad to see it.

"They are all competing hard," Gallon said. "They are good guys, and they're working very hard. They're making strides, and they're getting on pace."

Sophomore Amara Darboh and redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson, neither of whom caught a pass last season, will be expected to bolster a unit that has very little returning experience.

With the loss of Roy Roundtree, who graduated last season, and the use of redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner (who caught 16 passes for 266 yards and five touchdowns as a receiver last year) , the wide receiving corps returns just four players who caught passes last year - and Gallon is the only one who caught more than 20.

Gallon caught 49 passes for 829 yards and four touchdowns; senior Drew Dileo caught 20 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns; senior Jeremy Jackson caught four passes for 31 yards; and fifth-year senior Joe Reynolds caught three passes for 22 yards.

That's it.

But the receiving corps has been working very closely with Gardner this offseason.

"In our off-time, we always get together on Saturdays and Sundays and throw around for an hour or two," Gallon said. "We'll get the younger guys there, too, and catch jugs and run routes. I think that is good for us to build that relationship with the quarterback.

"Gardner is the type of guy that is always in the film room and working in his techniques, trying to get up with players individually to work on specific things. That's great for the team. He is making a strive to be the leader we need."

Gallon has also been working with redshirt freshman quarterback Brian Cleary, who has shot up the depth chart due to redshirt sophomore quarterback Russell Bellomy's ACL injury.

"Devin shoots bullets. Cleary is an accurate thrower, but it doesn't come as quick as Devin's ball," Gallon said. "It's not as fast as Devin's, but it gets there in time. It's a good ball, and most of the time, he is on point with everything. He's a good quarterback."

Gallon was the team's leading punt returner last season, too. But the Wolverines ranked No. 89 nationally in punt returns (16 total, 1.2 per game) and averaged just 8.81 yards per return.

Gallon returned 12 punts, averaged 5.5 yards per return.

This offseason, he, Dileo, Darboh and sophomore running back Dennis Norfleet have been taking the reps at punt returner. Norfleet returned just two punts last year and returned one of them for 42 yards, the longest punt return on the season for U-M.

"I'm working toward it," Gallon said. "Trying to secure it. Catching balls is probably the only thing you can do at this point to work on it.

"I want to return punts. Anything I can do to help the team, I want to do. If that's returning punts, I'll do it. If they wanted me to play quarterback, I'd do it. If they needed me to play center, I wouldn't even debate - I'd do it."


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