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ANN ARBOR — When Al Borges considers Jeremy Gallon’s attributes, he doesn’t think about graceful leaps or sky-high catches that help the diminutive wide receiver somehow elude defenders.
Borges, the Michigan offensive coordinator, discusses what Gallon can do on the field when he’s nowhere near the football.
“He’s reliable in the middle of the defense, but he does the dirty work, too,” Borges said. “When somebody’s bearing down on him, he’ll catch the ball in traffic. He’s just reliable. You know what he’s going to do, and he has big-play dimension.”
Borges has one quibble with Gallon, who is listed at 5 feet, 8 inches on Michigan’s roster.
“He’ll say he’s taller, but he’s lying,” Borges said.
In some sports, doing the dirty work confines an athlete into a certain role. But for Gallon, it enhances his spot with the Wolverines. Doing the dirty work brings another facet to his skills, and he’s found a way to make himself useful when he’s not fielding a pass.
“For me, I just love doing what other people don’t,” Gallon said. “I love blocking, I’ve been doing it forever, and it’s just important to see what a receiver does without the ball in his hands.”
Gallon will open this season as Michigan’s top receiver; in 13 games in 2012, he caught 49 passes for 829 yards and four touchdowns. With the graduation of Roy Roundtree and with Devin Gardner moving back to quarterback after spending part of last season at wide receiver, Gallon becomes one of the team’s veteran receivers.
In preparation to expand his role, Gallon lost weight but gained muscle mass since the end of last season, joking that he’s been “Wellman-ized,” a nod to Michigan strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman.
In Michigan’s revamped offense this season, Gallon has also seen his responsibilities change, as he’s running more routes and has more mobility on the field.
The redshirt senior from Apopka, Fla., also takes on another role: Leadership. Gallon acknowledges he’s become more vocal and has taken it upon himself to lead by example.
“Knowing that everyone is watching you and looking at your every move, it’s important that you stay focused,” Gallon said. “Never slip up and never have them see you do any wrong.
“Coming to practice, bringing a lot of energy, and just having them feel that energy and thriving off the energy from me.”
Gallon has been mentioned as Michigan’s player with the best opportunity to have a 1,000-yard receiving season. Jeff Hecklinski, who coaches Michigan’s receivers, said it’s a mark that’s within reach for Gallon.
Mario Manningham was the last Wolverine to reach that mark, with 72 catches for 1,174 yards in 2007, and is one of nine players at Michigan to have at least 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.
“I don’t know,” Gallon said with a shrug when asked about the possibility of reaching a certain landmark. “I’m just a team player. I want to win every game. I want a championship. I want these seniors to go out with a bang. I want these underclassmen to live up to the expectation of winning championships and to find out what it feels like to be a champion.”
And if Gallon was to reach that mark?
“It’s a good thing,” Gallon said. “I’d be happy. I’m pretty sure everyone else would be, too. It’s not about the yards. It’s not about the stats. I just want to win.”
DARBOH OUT FOR SEASON: Michigan announced that sophomore receiver Amara Darboh will miss the season with a foot injury and will undergo surgery.
Coach Brady Hoke said Tuesday that Darboh was injured during Saturday's scrimmage but did not elaborate. Darboh was projected as a potential starter.