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July 15, 2014

Mount Rushmore Michigan: Tight End

Previous Mount Rushmore Pieces: QBRBWR

In our continuing series looking at the top four players of the last 50 years at each position, we reach tight end. Michigan doesn't have a dominant tight end legacy, but a handful, like Jerame Tuman, have shined.

Jack Clancy - 1963-66

There is considerable debate about whether Clancy should be included among the tight ends. He played 'end' at Michigan but it was more of a receiver than the tight end that we know the position today. However, Michigan includes Clancy among tight ends in its record books, so we're slotting him there.

From 1938-1964, no U-M player had ever recorded more than 508 yards receiving (Dick Rifenburg in 1948). Then Clancy came along. He had 52 catches for 762 yards as a junior in 1965 and then went over 1,000 yards (1,079) on 76 catches in 1966. No Wolverine target would hit the 1,000-yard mark again until Desmond Howard in 1990.

Unless Michigan re-categorizes Clancy, he is the only tight end in school history with a 1,000-yard season while he ranks first in the career annals for receptions (132) and yards (1,919).

Jim Mandich - 1967-69

Most historians do agree that Mandich was a tight end (U-M's most accredited historian, Bob Rosiek, argues Mandich was the first) and over his three-year career, he racked up 119 catches for 1,508 yards - both numbers that rank second all time and would be first if not for Clancy.

A captain on Bo Schembechler's first team and an All-American during that 1969 season, Mandich had 50 grabs for 662 yards and four touchdowns for the Maize and Blue, setting a standard for the tight end position.

Jerame Tuman - 1995-98

Tuman was the closest Michigan came to having an offensive superstar in 1997, and why not - every time the Wolverines needed a big play in the passing game, they went Tuman's way.

An All-American as a junior in 1997, Tuman had 29 catches for 437 yards and five scores, reeling in a TD in critical wins against Iowa, Penn State and Washington State.

Tuman actually had his best year in 1996 with 33 catches for 524 yards and five touchdowns, and he finished his career third all time among tight ends with 98 catches and third with 1,279 yards. His 13 career TDs, meanwhile, are a tight end record.

Bennie Joppru - 1999-2002

The most recent Wolverine to earn All-America honors as a tight end, Joppru picked up his accolades in 2002 after snagging 53 catches (second behind Clancy), good for 579 yards (fifth) and five touchdowns (fourth for a single season).

Joppru was a bit of a slow-starter, with only 15 catches his first two seasons, but he finished strong, ending his career fourth all time among TEs with 85 grabs and ninth in yards (800).

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    Just Missed

    Doug Marsh - 1977-79

    The bridge between Mandich and Eric Kattus in the 1980s, Marsh ranked second on the team in 1978 with six touchdown receptions, then had his best year in as a senior in 1979 with 33 grabs for 612 yards and three scores. He ranks in the top 10 in both career receptions (10th, 57) and receiving yards (seventh, 947).

    Eric Kattus - 1982-85

    Kattus may also lay claim to the top single-season effort produced by a tight end, hauling in 38 grabs for 582 yards and a record eight touchdowns in 1985. The All-Big Ten first-teamer was a bit of a one-year wonder, catching only seven balls the rest of his career.

    Tony McGee - 1989-92

    During an All-Big Ten first-team campaign in 1992, McGee had 38 grabs for 467 yards and six touchdowns, leading the Wolverines to a conference crown and a Rose Bowl win.

    Jay Riemersma - 1992-95

    A quarterback-turned tight end, Riemersma caught 74 balls (sixth all time) for 706 yards and three touchdowns in just two seasons at the position. Had he played there all his career, it is very likely he would be one of only three tight ends in school history with 100 career catches.

    Who is the biggest snub at tight end? You can vote here.

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