UA-59049186-1 Michigan Team 137 Preview: Running Back - Good if it Goes

Michigan Team 137 Preview: Running Back

Back from last year (clic para grande)


Projected starter: De’Veon Smith

Could make an impact: Drake Johnson, Ty Isaac, Jabrill Peppers, Karan Higdon, Kareem Walker, Kingston Davis, Chris Evans

Watch out for next year: Everyone listed above except Smith and Johnson, Khaleke Hudson

If you asked someone to build the ideal Harbaugh running back, what would be built wouldn’t differ greatly from senior De’Veon Smith. Smith is a hard runner who can dish out a hit as well as take one, as much of the BYU defense can attest. Smith is also an asset as a blocker. After spending much of 2015 missing obvious holes, the light switch came on for Smith in the bowl game. If his vision issues are truly straightened out, this could be a very nice 2016 campaign.

Redshirt senior Drake Johnson has been about as unlikely as a person can be during his time in Ann Arbor, to the point where it wasn’t all that surprising when he got run over by a forklift during the spring. Seriously, if someone just told me one of the Michigan players got run over by a forklift without mentioning any names, my response would’ve been “Is Drake Johnson okay?” Finally healthy after a pair of ACL tears, Johnson had a nice season in 2015. He didn’t sustain any major injuries upon being mistaken by a track starting block by the driver of the aforementioned forklift, which like, seriously man, why would you run over one of those in the first place?, so he should be good to go this season. His speed makes him a nice complement to the bruising Smith.

Redshirt junior Ty Isaac’s light switch appeared to come on in this year’s spring game. You should not be overly excited about that, because spring game, but some cautious optimism is probably okay. Isaac’s dropped a few pounds, though he still has plenty of size at 6’3, 228. Now, he has a bit more speed, making him a more well-rounded back. Last year, fumbling issues landed him in the doghouse. Those will need to be in his past if he’s going to reach the ceiling he had coming out of high school, where he was a 5-star recruit.

Redshirt sophomore Jabrill Peppers got some snaps at RB last year. He graded out as Michigan’s third-best RB a year ago despite being primarily a defender and playing only part-time on offense and doing that in only six games. He’s simply too good of an athlete to not use on offense in some capacity. Freshman Khaleke Hudson is a similarly dynamic athlete, though not as good an athlete as Peppers is, because few are. Hudson could end up with a similar role in 2017.

Sophomore Karan Higdon was pretty meh last year in limited action. Hindsight 20/20, that’s a redshirt that maybe could have not been burned. The RB position’s pretty deep, though, so oh well, I guess. He’s got a decent ceiling and is very much a Harbaugh back, so he could see the field a bit. However, Michigan returns a few guys ahead of him and brought in three guys who are each capable of seeing the field for one reason or another, so unless he’s taken some major steps forward since last season, I would temper my expectations.

Freshman Kareem Walker comes to Ann Arbor with plenty of physical talent. He’s not a 4.3 40 guy or anything, but possesses enough speed and some very quick feet. On top of it all, he’s a pretty hard runner. The only real problem is his vision. So it appears as though we’re going to get to see what might have been if Tyrone Wheatley had gotten a crack at Derrick Green. Walker enrolled early, so it’s possible he’s ready to contribute this year, but it’s likely he’ll still need some polishing, so with all the other options Michigan has at RB, a redshirt might be a good idea.

Freshman Kingston Davis looked like a sleeper to me when I was scouting this year’s incoming recruits. His high school film showed a punishing runner who can block and catch the ball out of the backfield. His vision was pretty impressive, especially considering his junior film was all I had to go on. With his size (6’1, 225) and skill set, my guess is he ultimately ends up as a B.J. Askew-type RB/FB hybrid guy. He enrolled early, so he could be ready to see the field a bit this year. I would definitely redshirt at least one of him and Walker, though, if not both.

Freshman Chris Evans is being listed here because I like him better as a RB than a slot receiver and is listed amongst those who could make an impact this season because he’s really fast. He needs to bulk up a bit if he’s going to play RB, so that could mean a redshirt. At the very least, he’s an exciting prospect for 2017.

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312


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