Colston Loveland wasn’t sure if any offers would ever materialize.
The freshman tight end hails from Gooding, Idaho — an area better known for its potatoes than its football talent. At Gooding High School, Loveland was an impressive player, accumulating 235 receptions for 3,141 yards and 35 touchdowns. He was a dominant aerial threat, playing on the varsity team for all of high school.
He knew he had the talent to play at a top college football program, he just hoped power five coaches would come to that same realization.
“That was a worry for sure because growing up I’d seen a lot of talent at my school and in Idaho in general kind of get looked over,” Loveland said. “But people ahead of me preached, ‘If you’re good, people will find you,’ so that’s what I stuck with and it got me here.”
Loveland played his first two years at wide receiver before switching to tight end. In the winter of his sophomore year, Loveland’s recruiting finally began to pick up, coming off a season where he corralled 91 receptions, including 19 in one game — both school records.
His first offer came from Idaho State, and Utah State quickly followed suit. But once he proved he could maintain his gaudy receiving production at a new position, bigger schools began to take notice. By the summer before his senior year, Loveland held a bevy of offers including SEC heavyweights like Alabama, LSU and Auburn.
But out of all his options, there was an allure to Michigan that no other school could match.
“When I came here on my visit, the culture felt right,” Loveland said. “Something special was here and ever since I came, it’s exceeded my expectations. All the staff and players are super great and they’ve got a bond that I’ve never seen anywhere else.”
Loveland signed his letter of intent with the Wolverines last December, and by January he was on campus as an early enrollee. Loveland quickly soaked up information and participated in spring ball. And with that, he bonded with the coaching staff, an experience he had previously taken notice of as an outsider.
He formed an instant connection with tight ends coach Grant Newsome, who was a graduate assistant during Loveland’s recruitment. The pair kept in touch throughout the time leading up to Loveland’s arrival, and Newsome’s promotion to oversee the tight end group this season was a huge thrill to the freshman.
“Coach Newsome, (I) love him,” Loveland said. “Meetings are awesome because he just sinks (things) into your mind and makes sure that you know what you’re doing before you go out there. He’s a great coach and I love learning from him.”
Newsome oversees the entire position group, a group he claims extends seven or eight deep. But when asked about Loveland last week, Newsome couldn’t help but gush.
“Some guys kind of have it,” Newsome said on Sept. 21. “We kind of realized pretty quickly that he had the tools and, on top of that, the mindset was very, very mature for his age — not just physically but also mentally. He was able to come in and grasp the playbook and handle the stress of being a student athlete, playing football at Michigan.”
The tools were obvious from the jump, but finding playing time as a true freshman — especially in an offense that returned its top two players at tight end — was a difficult proposition.
But Loveland has found a way to seize the opportunity. He made at least one catch each of the first three games, albeit mostly in garbage time. But in doing so, he’s proved he can make contributions on the field.
And with senior tight end Erick All expected to miss time with an injury, Loveland may be called upon to take on a bigger role as the season goes on.
“I always think that I’m good enough to play,” Loveland said. “But really from the jump, I was just trying my hardest to come out everyday and get better and better and learn from the guys ahead of me.”
Back in Idaho, Loveland didn’t know if he would ever garner a power five offer.
Now, even in his early days in Ann Arbor, he’s proving his worth.