The Denard phenomenon continues to grow with an announcement by the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back of his intentions to play college football at Michigan. Dee Hart, from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. announced his decision tonight following his team’s win over Boone High.
The 5’9″, 189-pound speedster chose Michigan over Alabama, perhaps surprising many who believed the recent hype. In the past couple of days, he reportedly sent texts to the Orlando Sentinel saying, “real high on Alabama” and “Roll Tide,” but many in the know thought that to be simply leading them on. And they were right.
Hart, whose former teammate is Michigan freshman wide receiver Ricardo Miller, visited for the season opener against UConn and witnessed first-hand Robinson’s first 200/200 game of the season. He left Ann Arbor raving about the visit and commenting on how fun it would be to play alongside Robinson.
In the past few weeks, Hart made official visits to Auburn and Alabama, but neither was enough to keep him from going Blue.
Hart isn’t the most physically imposing back, but he fits Rich Rodriguez’s system perfectly and can be compared to former West Virginia (and current Houston Texans) running back Steve Slaton. Slaton rushed for nearly 4,000 yards in three seasons in Rodriguez’s offense at WVU and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy race in 2006. Hart could do just the same.
In tonight’s game preceding his announcement, Hart rushed for 267 yards and four touchdowns in his school’s 45-0 win.
Michigan doesn’t lose a running back following this season, but Hart will surely be given the chance to compete right away. Rivals describes him as “lightning in a bottle,” and according to Scout, he’s a good enough receiver to play in the slot. That will make him versatile enough to get some early playing time next season, even among Michigan’s crowded and talented skills players.
|DEMETRIUS (DEE) HART – RB
|5’9″, 189 lbs.
|Dr. Phillips High School|
|Rivals Ranking: #1 RB, #37 overall (4-stars)
|Scout Ranking: #9 RB (4-stars)
|ESPN Ranking: #9 RB, #118 overall (4-stars)
He can line up in the slot and split carries with Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith in the backfield. Shaw will be a senior next season, so getting Hart’s feet wet in the offense in 2011 will set him up to assume the starting role in 2012.
Hart becomes the first of what could be a breakout recruiting class for Rodriguez on the heels of the success of Robinson. As the hype grows and Heisman talk continues, more and more top recruits will start looking at the Maize and Blue. Here’s to hoping that many of them are on the defensive side of the ball.