Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker, one of the top tight ends in college football, told ESPN that he’s leaving school to declare for the 2023 NFL draft.
Schoonmaker is a fifth-year senior with one year of eligibility remaining. Multiple NFL scouts told ESPN that he projects as a second-round pick, as his ability to have a strong impact on both the run game and pose as a pass-catching threat make him attractive to NFL teams.
“Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and a lot of the offensive coaches have given me the confidence that I’m ready for the next level, and I’ve developed into a complete tight end,” Schoonmaker told ESPN. “I’m at that point where I can now begin the process for the next level. With that guidance and the guidance of others, it’s that time.”
At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Schoonmaker caught 35 balls this year for 418 yards and three touchdowns. Opposing coaches credited his role as essentially a sixth offensive linemen for Michigan, which won the Joe Moore Award for the second-straight year as the nation’s top offensive line.
Schoonmaker said he takes a lot of pride in both aspects of the game, and he’s appreciative of his ancillary role in Michigan’s dominant offensive line identity. Michigan offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore moved over from tight ends coach two seasons ago, which added to the symmetry of Schoonmaker’s role.
“I think I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Moore and Coach (Grant) Newsome, my tight ends coach,” Schoonmaker said. “Everyone that really developed me. I think they just set a standard for the offensive line room and tight end room — being selfless and playing with and for each other and playing blue collar.”
Schoonmaker proved a vexing match-up for the opposition because of his dual-threat capability. One veteran opposing coach called him one of the best tight ends he’d faced in his entire coaching career.
“He can out-athlete a linebacker, out-physical safeties or defensive backs,” said the coach. “He can work in the run game as well. A lot of guys are ‘either or’ in terms of the pass game and run game. The best are the guys that can do both.”
That duality will help Schooonmaker stand out in what promises to be a loaded tight end draft class. He’s excited to compete with a class that’s slated to include Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid and Georgia’s Darnell Washington.
Schoonmaker had been bothered late in the season by a sprained right shoulder, but he said that injury will heal soon with rest and he’ll be full-go for the NFL Combine and his pro day.
“These next few months are the most exciting for me,” Schoonmaker said. “It’s a chance for all of us to be put together and run against each other and do different things against each other. It’s a chance for me to showcase what I can do. I’m really excited for that.”
Schoonmaker acknowledges that his ability to be a forceful blocker and dynamic downfield pass catcher is something that can potentially separate him in the draft process. He said he relishes both studying defenses for holes and defenders for tendencies, also with mastering the blocking aspects of the position.
“Just something that I take great pride in is trying to get better in both aspects all the time and developing those each and every day,” he said. “They’re both huge components to the position. From what I’ve been told from many people, it’s rare to combine that. If I can continue to be that person to excel at both, it can only be to my benefit.”
Schoonmaker expressed his appreciation for his time at Michigan, as the Wolverines went to the College Football Playoff in back-to-back seasons. They finished with a 25-3 record over the past two years.
“Honestly, going to Michigan was the greatest experience I’ve ever had,” he said. “I was part of an amazing family that’s grown in my five years being there. I’ve met tremendous coaches and players who feel like dads and brothers away from home that I’m going to have for the rest of my life.”