On Sunday, Michigan earned its seventh commitment in the 2023 cycle, TE Deakon Tonielli. According to 247sports Composite, Tonielli ranks 430th in the nation, ranking as the 22nd best TE. The 6’6 215 prospect from Oswego, Illinois, is currently Michigan’s third highest-ranked commit. Tonielli currently holds 15 offers highlighted by Tennessee, Michigan State, Cincinnati, and Illinois. The week before committing, Tonielli took an official visit to Illinois. After leaving Urbana-Champaign uncommitted, Tonielli took an official to Michigan this weekend. While on his visit, Deakon Tonielli decided to verbally commit to head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines.
Current Tight Ends on the Michigan Roster
Erick All: All-Big 10 Honorable Mention: 38 receptions for 437 yards 2 TDs (2022)
Luke Schoonmaker: All-Big 10 Honorable Mention: 17 receptions for 165 yards, 3 TDs (2022)
Joel Honigford: 6th Year: 1 reception for 10 yards (2022)
Matthew Hibner: 2020 Cycle 400th nationally, 12th ranked TE
Louis Hansen: 2021 276th nationally, 11th ranked TE
Colston Loveland: 2022 302nd nationally, 14th ranked TE
Marlin Klein: 2022 545th nationally 29th ranked TE
Split reps between tight end and wide receiver. Linning up as a tight end, Tonielli maintains blocks reasonably well but will need to put weight to handle Big 10 defenses. He runs quick out-routes well, brings in the ball with ease, and can slip off of defenders. When lined up as a receiver, however, his weaknesses showed. He will need to improve route running and currently lacks the ability to be a consistent deep threat. Has displayed he can go up and bring in jump balls but will need to improve his ability to maintain separation in goal-line jump ball situations.
Tonielli should expect to be competing for a 4th string spot at TE upon his arrival in Ann Arbor, assuming seniors Erick All, Luke Schoonmaker, and Joel Honigford conclude their time at Michigan following the 2022 season. 2020 recruit Matthew Hibner and 2021 recruit Louis Hansen are expected to be the two main tight ends in rotation during Tonielli’s freshman year. Furthermore, Michigan took on two tight ends in the 2022 recruiting cycle in Colston Loveland and Marlin Klein, which does not help his case regarding immediate playing time.
Regarding how Tonielli is expected to be used, I would project that Tonielli primarily fills in as a blocker with occasional opportunities to catch passes in short-yardage situations. He will need to develop better technique as a route runner to become a larger receiving threat. Given Tonielli’s current build (215 pounds), he should be expected to spend a year or two in the weight room. Another blocking TE, Luke Schoonmaker, is around 250 pounds. Given the current depth chart, it is expected that Tonielli will likely have to sit a year or two before seeing consistent action on the field. It makes sense that Michigan sees him as a developmental project.