Think of Amara Darboh as a figment of the imagination.
Time-wise, he’s approaching year No. 3 at Michigan—the 6’2,” 214-pound redshirt sophomore receiver signed with the 2012 class, coach Brady Hoke’s first.
But playing-wise, he’s been absent.
However, it hasn’t been his fault.
As a true frosh, Darboh played four games but was essentially shelved for later use.
When it came time for later use, an injury to his right foot—one which required surgery—threw the sophomore into a wayward course of recovery and waiting.
Then there was more recovery accompanied by more waiting.
Time-wise, he’s certainly due for something.
Team 135 will need at least that, especially since Jeremy Gallon’s career has come to an end. After a record-setting senior season, "Mr. Security Blanket" is NFL-bound.
Needless to say, the Wolverines are on an active search for their next play maker—and plenty of talent resides within their wideout depth chart.
Devin Funchess, a junior, could outgrow his conference star-in-the-making status and enter the national realm.
A close-to-proven commodity, Jehu Chesson, is also on the ascent. The redshirt sophomore will likely be on the end of several plays this fall.
Assuming he makes a healthy return, sophomore Jake Butt should take a prominent role in the passing game. He’s a tight end. But why nitpick? He can catch, and Doug Nussmeier, the offensive coordinator, needs guys who can do that, regardless of position title.
Freddy Canteen, a true frosh, has impressed during spring drills. At the moment, he’s among contenders for a regular gig.
Another "up-sider," Drake Harris, Canteen's fellow early enrollee, was supposed to provide a boost to the receiving corps. However, due to a hamstring injury, 2014’s "Prize of Michigan" recruit will likely miss the rest of spring, including Saturday’s scrimmage at "The Big House."
Michigan has a lot in the cupboard. But Nussmeier and Hoke need a hero to get things cooking.
So why not Darboh? He’s completely willing to step into the mix. However, according to his coaches, he's not yet ready.
“Right now I feel like I’m 100 percent, but they’re keeping me out,” said Darboh to MLive.com’s Kyle Austin. “By the time fall camp comes around I should be 100 percent.”
Offensive progress hinges on the fingertips of the receivers. A challenging hand was dealt to Darboh, but don't discard him just yet. He represents a fraction of Michigan's untapped talent.
In the recruiting world, "a few years ago" seems like forever. Basically, anything that's not at least a year ahead of the current class is old news.
That being said, Michigan’s gone through some changes since 2012. For Darboh, the biggest change, of course, has to be the swapping of OCs—going from Al Borges to Nussmeier could present a few roadblocks.
Or it may open up things for the eager, former West Des Moines Dowling Catholic star looking to make a name for himself this fall.
But before that conversation gets started, take a second to get reacquainted. Please find the following table useful while doing so.
Here's the link to his 247Sports profile.
|Back for the first time|
|Class||Pos. Ranking||Overall Ranking (Composite)||Ht./Wt./40-Yard|
|2012||No. 28 WR||No. 222 ; No. 1 in Iowa||6'2"/205/4.45|
|247Sports; Darboh received offers from Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Florida, among others.|
What Can He Do?
The following video from YouTube user kdutch98 looks about right...
It's a fair question...
What does he bring to the table?
But he's not a Megatron-like target.
At 214 pounds, he has enough mass on his 6'2" frame to absorb a few tackles and break through linebackers and defensive backs. With a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, he has the speed to get away from them, too.
Pegging him as a sideline specialist seems about right. He's nimble and has reliable mitts. Those guys move chains and use every last horizontal inch of the field.
But he can get vertical as well.
The following report is from Allen Trieu of Scout.com.
Above average size and speed ratio. Maybe not a burner, but has solid deep speed. Excellent hands, ball skills, and ability to go up and get the ball in traffic. He tracks the ball well and has good body control. After the catch he has good ability and is a pretty strong kid that can break tackles in the open field. - Allen Trieu
All of that sounds perfect. Michigan will take two.
What's not to like about Trieu's assessment? It gives reason to anticipate Darboh's arrival. However, he has zero catches for zero yards and zero touchdowns. As mentioned above, he's played just four games as a receiver.
Thanks to special teams, his three-year resume boasts all of 11 games.
Quality, Not Quantity
Former OC Al Borges saw Darboh's potential from the start...
OK, so basically, Darboh is unproven stock. But if Hoke and Nussmeier invest proper resources, they could be in for a surprising return in 2014.
Sometimes, the best and most useful players don't lead on the stat sheet. That much was true for Butt, who slipped into the rotation on a regular basis after a late-season surge. Statistically speaking, Gallon, who reeled in 89 receptions for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns, was Michigan's "leader and best" in 2013.
But there's a strong argument for Funchess, who finished the year with 49 catches for 748 yards and six touchdowns. Gallon was the go-to, but Funchess, who is 6'4" and 230 pounds, was a great bailout option for Gardner, who could find a similar friend in Darboh this fall.
It's not all about numbers. Inflated values mean nothing when compared to efficient, steady production.
Imagination time is about to expire. Darboh is a concept-player who's one step closer to becoming a finished product.
|Projections For a Healthy T/Amara|
|Educated guessing based on 2013 stats/distribution; UM has just three returning players with more than 15 catches. That'll probably come into play.|
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81