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Michigan Picks Up Commitment From High-Upside Tight End

Michigan's commitment drought is officially over after landing tight end Deakon Tonielli out of Illinois.

It had been nearing three months since Michigan picked up a new member of its 2023 class but the drought is officially over with the commitment of Oswego (Ill.) High tight end Deakon Tonielli, who was in town for Victors Weekend.

Tonielli is considered a high-upside tight end/wide receiver hybrid at 6-6, 215 pounds. The Illinois native isn't necessarily the highest-ranked tight end in the country but he had a solid offer list that consisted of schools like Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Tennessee and West Virginia, among others. Wisconsin was also interested but had not offered yet.

When I watch Tonielli, I see Jake Butt 2.0. Butt was a little bigger coming out of high school at 230 pounds, but Tonielli could easily be in that range by the end of his senior campaign. Like Butt, Tonielli isn't the most explosive athlete in the world but he's got good enough speed, just enough wiggle and terrific body control that allows him to get open often. He seems to have the same type of subtle movements that allow tight ends like Butt, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Mark Andrews to just get open and make catches. I'm not saying he's going to be those guys, but he manages to make a lot of plays without being the best athlete. 

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He also catches the ball naturally with his hands like Butt did and manages to pick up a lot of extra yards even though he isn't the heftiest tight end in the world. Contact isn't an issue for him and he always seems to get just a few more yards once he's going down.

As a blocker, he'll have to improve, but he's got a really nice frame and plenty of room to add weight and get stronger. If he can block as well as Butt did while he was a Wolverine, while continuing to excel and develop as a route runner and pass catcher, he'll be just fine.