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Idaho's Colston Loveland: Making of a national college football champion at Michigan

One of the top tight ends in the country came through for the Wolverines at the most opportune time - a 41-yard catch in the fourth quarter of Michigan's 34-13 win over Washington in the College Football Playoff title game

The rest of the country now knows what the "Gem State" has known for years.

Michigan sophomore tight end Colston Loveland is far more than just the kid from Idaho.

The Gooding High School alum is now, “The man from Idaho” as ESPN commentator Chris Fowler said during the broadcast of Monday’s national championship game.

It came after Loveland hauled in a 41-yard catch over the middle with under 10 minutes remaining. The big-time play was much-needed as Michigan’s offense had stalled out in the second half and was just hanging on to a 20-13 lead over Washington.

"He is an athlete," ESPN color commentator Kirk Herbstreit added. “Goes up, soft hands for a big man and then how about the (28) yards after the catch.”

Four plays later, the Wolverines scored on a 12-yard touchdown run by Blake Corum to effectively ice the game at 27-13 with 7:09 to go..

“We had another ace up the sleeve,”Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference. “We had a play-action pass to Colston Loveland.”

Loveland, who was making his 15th career start, ended up being the team’s leading receiver with three catches for 64 yards while also springing Donovan Edwards for a 46-yard touchdown run in the first quarter with a key block of Washington cornerback Dominique Hampton.

It all helped the Wolverines to a 34-13 win that gave them their first national title since 1997. They also became just the fifth NCAA Division I team to finish a season 15-0.

Colston Loveland, Gooding football, class of 2022

Loveland became the first Idaho product to win a national title since Nampa's Jorrell Bostrom did with Auburn in 2011

“They’ve got some really good skill guys. No. 18 (Colston Loveland), the tight end, kind of a mismatch, a little like Georgia’s guy (Brock Bowers),” said former Alabama coach Nick Saban before their semifinal matchup on New Year’s Day. Michigan won 27-20 in overtime.

Bowers is expected to be an NFL first-round draft pick in the spring.

This type of showing by Loveland is nothing new, though.

Harbaugh saw this coming earlier in the season.

“He’s really great, (a) freak athlete,” Harbaugh said. “I think the cat’s out of the bag. And he doesn’t know it. He doesn’t know how good he can be. … I kind of always thought that maybe the longer it takes him to figure that out, the better off he’ll be. But, the cat’s out of the bag.”

Loveland certainly proved his coach right.

He finished the year as Michigan’s second-leading receiver with 45 catches for 649 yards and four touchdowns. Loveland ended up having the fifth-most receiving yards by a tight end in the country. His other highlights included a two-touchdown performance against Michigan State on Oct. 21 before having a season-high 88 yards in “The Game” against arch-rival Ohio State a month later. The Buckeyes were previously unbeaten at 11-0.

It all garnered him an all-Big Ten first-team selection after being named the offensive and co-special teams rookie of the year by his peers during his freshman campaign that saw him make 16 receptions for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“Huge. Colston, every single game we go into I feel like it’s an advantage for us, just because of the type of athlete he is, no matter who he goes against,” said Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy in mid-December. “Just size, strength, speed, ability to catch the ball. And just being able to get him in the right matchups, at the right time, is going to pivotal to this game.”



Colston Loveland, of Gooding, Idaho, wins national football title with Michigan in 2023-24

Game 1 vs. East Carolina

Stats: Four catches, 57 yards

Biggest play: 24-yard catch


Game 2 vs. UNLV

Stats: Two catches, 6 yards

Biggest play: 9-yard catch.


Game 3 vs. Bowling Green

Stats: Three catches, 30 yards.

Biggest play: 22-yard catch


Game 4 vs. Rutgers

Stats: Five catches, 75 yards

Biggest play: Season-long 35-yard catch (at the time)

Quotable: “We planned that (play) all week,” Michigan senior running back Blake Corum said of the Loveland reception. “We practiced that, we repped it and then we were able to punch it in. So that second drive was a huge part of the game and a very good part of the game.”


Game 5 vs. Nebraska

Stats: One catch, 13 yards

Biggest play: 13-yard catch


Game 6 vs. Minnesota

Stats: One catch, 24 yards,

Biggest play: Hauls in first touchdown catch of the season on a 24-yard pass in the third quarter.


Game 7 vs. Indiana

Stats: Three catches, 80 yards

Biggest play: 54-yard touchdown catch to begin the first drive of the third quarter

Quotable: "I was able to escape the pocket, then it was two-on-one with that defender and me and Colston," McCarthy told the Detroit News.


Game 8 vs. Michigan State

Stats: Four catches, 79 yards

Biggest play: 22-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter for first career multi-score game.

Quotabale: “(That’s) some of the best tight end play, I think, anybody’s ever seen in college football.” Harbaugh said.


Game 9 vs. Purdue

Stats: Four catches, 55 yards

Biggest play: 17-yard reception


Game 10 vs. Penn State

Stats: Two catches, 7 yards

Biggest play: 7-yard catch


Game 11 vs. Maryland

Stats: Three catches, 36 yards

Biggest play: 13-yard catch


Game 12 vs. Ohio State

Stats: Five catches, 88 yards

Biggest play: 34-yard catch on a halfback pass


Game 13 vs. Iowa

Stats: Three catches, 22 yards

Biggest play: 10-yard reception


Game 14 vs. Alabama (national semifinals)

Stats: Two catches, 13 yards

Biggest play: 11-yard catch


Game 15 vs Washington (national championship game)

Stats: Three catches, 64 yards

Biggest play: 41-yard catch with under 10 minutes remaining that set up Corum’s 12-yard touchdown run to seal the game

Quotable: “We needed a play,” Loveland told the Big Ten Network. “Obviously, there were a lot of three-and-outs. They called that play, and it was kind of one of those plays all week where I was like, ‘All right, I know I’m getting the ball. I gotta go make a play.’

“J.J. (McCarthy) put it where it needed to be, and I came down with the catch. It was a huge play. It kind of got the momentum going.”