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Posts Tagged ‘Running Back’

Predicting Michigan 2016: The running backs

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016


Predicting Michgian 2016-RunningBacks

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Previous: Quarterbacks

The Michigan rushing attack showed improvement in some areas under Jim Harbaugh in Year 1, but it still has a long way to go if the Wolverines hope to compete for a Big Ten East title.

Michigan returns each of its three most experienced running backs from last season, but none of them have an iron grip on the starting job.

Returning Starters

Barring something unforeseen, senior De’Veon Smith will top the running back depth chart when Michigan breaks camp. Smith spent most of the last two seasons as the starting running back and did a solid job, though he struggled in conference play.

Drake Johnson

(AP photo)

In five games against nonconference opponents last season, Smith thrice ran for over 100 yards and scored a combined four touchdowns. In seven conference matchups, he rushed for fewer than 45 yards per game and got shut down in big games like Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State.

There’s a reason Smith carried the ball 180 times last season. Because of Michigan’s struggles with run blocking, Smith gave the offense its best chance to break tackles and pick up yards after contact. He was extremely difficult to bring down in the open field and found the end zone in goal line situations.

But Smith’s big play potential is limited. There were times throughout the season when the offensive line created a hole and Smith wasn’t able to adjust in time to hit it, instead running into tacklers or even the backs of his linemen.

Smith is the all-around best proven option for Michigan this fall, but there are other players with more upside. Smith will likely be the starter against Hawaii, but he’ll need to keep earning that role to stay ahead of the pack.

Drake Johnson is the other running back with starting experience in the Maize and Blue. Johnson took the job from Smith late in 2014 and averaged six yards per carry despite sitting out against several of Michigan’s weaker opponents.

The Ann Arbor Pioneer product was carrying an undermanned Michigan offense in the Horseshoe on Nov. 29, 2014 before an injury cut his season a few minutes short. He picked up 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground against Ohio State and had the Wolverines in position for a massive upset.

When he went down, so did Michigan’s chances.

Johnson was an afterthought for much of the 2015 campaign despite showing promising signs when he did get in on the action. When Michigan struggled to run the ball against Maryland, Johnson earned 13 carries and turned them into 68 yards and a touchdown. He also took a screen pass 31 yards for a touchdown that basically put the game away.

Since his injury, Johnson has largely fallen off the radar. But in his final year of eligibility, he figures to play a significant role in the Michigan backfield.

Projected Stats – Smith
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG Receiving Yards
160 700 4.4 5 53.8 95
Career Stats
2015 180 753 4.2 6 57.9 159
2014 108 519 4.8 6 43.3 26
2013 26 117 4.5 0 9.8 0
Totals 314 1,389 4.4 12 37.5 185
Projected Stats – Johnson
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG Receiving Yards
50 300 6.0 3 23.1 2
Career Stats
2015 54 271 5.0 4 22.6 96
2014 60 361 6.0 4 30.1 11
2013 2 9 4.5 0 9.0 0
2012 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Totals 116 641 5.5 8 25.6 107
Returning contributors

Last season Michigan had two former five-star running backs on its roster. Neither of them have come anywhere near their expected potential and neither made a major impact on the 2015 season.

(Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports)

(Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports)

Now Derrick Green is gone and Ty Isaac is surrounded by uncertainty. He wasn’t bad last season, but he wasn’t good enough to stay in Harbaugh’s rotation.

Isaac’s first year in Ann Arbor was defined by one 76-yard touchdown dash against UNLV, but he also averaged a solid 4.4 yards per carry the other 29 times his number was called. He fell out of the rotation for one reason: fumbles.

Isaac’s role on the team basically evaporated after a near-disastrous goal line fumble in Maryland. Michigan was backed up inside its own five-yard line when Isaac coughed up the ball in a one-possession game. The Wolverines recovered, but it was the last straw for Harbaugh. Isaac received only four touches the rest of the season.

The talent is there, and there’s definitely a spot for Isaac in Michigan’s backfield. But he’s running out of time to make the most of it.

Karan Higdon is the only other returning running back who received double digit carries last season. As a true freshman, Higdon impressed Harbaugh enough to earn playing time against ranked opponents in Northwestern and Michigan State. He figures to be similarly buried on the depth chart this season, but with so many big, bruising running backs fighting for carries, Higdon will be a potential change of pace.

Projected Stats – Isaac
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG Receiving Yards
50 240 4.8 2 18.5 25
Career Stats
2015 30 205 6.8 1 29.3 0
2014 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2013 40 236 5.9 2 16.9 57
Totals 70 441 6.3 3 21.0 57
Projected Stats – Higdon
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG Receiving Yards
20 60 3.0 0 4.6 7
Career Stats
2015 11 19 1.7 0 6.3 3
Totals 11 19 1.7 0 6.3 3
New Faces

Michigan brought in a pair of huge running backs this offseason, including one of the top overall recruits in the nation.

Kareem Walker was one of the most valuable commitments in recent Michigan history after he flipped from Ohio State, not only because he helped recruit guys like Rashan Gary and Michael Dwumfour, but also because he’s a five-star talent who fits the Harbaugh offense perfectly.

Walker is a powerful inside runner and makes a living abusing tacklers one-on-one. Michigan fans got their first look at the freshman when he blew up two tacklers on a red zone run in the Spring Game.

Though he admits he doesn’t want to be a back who carries the ball 30 times per game, Walker expects to be in the rotation from Day 1. At this point, there’s no reason to doubt he will be.

The other, less heralded running back commit is Kingston Davis, who snubbed a handful of SEC schools to make the trip north to Ann Arbor. The Alabama native fits into the same category as Smith and Walker. He’s a huge body who welcomes contact and runs between the tackles.

Harbaugh loves big running backs. Now, he has plenty of them.

Projected Stats – Walker
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG Receiving Yards
70 350 5.0 5 26.9 35
Projected Stats – Davis
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG Receiving Yards
20 80 4.0 1 6.2 4
Meet the Rest

Wyatt Shallman: Senior, 6-3, 245, from Hartland, Mich. (Detroit Central Catholic)
Career stats: 4 attempts for 14 yards, 0 TDs
Joe Hewlett: Junior, 6-0, 195, from Novi, Mich. (Northville)
No career stats

New in Blue: 2017 RB O’Maury Samuels

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016


O'Maury Samuels(247 Sports)

O’Maury Samuels – RB | 5-11, 190 | Los Lunas, N.M. (Los Lunas)
ESPNN/A RivalsN/A 247: 3-star, #25 RB Scout: 4-star, #23 RB
247 Composite: 4-star #21 RB
Other top offers: TCU, Arizona, California, New Mexico, New Mexico State

Jim Harbaugh landed a commitment for the third straight day and the fifth time in the past week when Los Lunas, N.M. running back O’Maury Samuels pledged his verbal to the Wolverines on Sunday afternoon. He announced his decision on Twitter.

Samuels is a four-star according to Scout and a three-star per 247. Rivals and ESPN have yet to rank him. Scout lists him as the 23rd-best running back in the 2017 class, while 247 ranks him as the 25th-best running back and 338th nationally.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back rushed for 1,306 yards for Los Lunas High School as a junior last fall, earning all-state honors. He then made his mark on The Opening Dallas regional last month, recording a 4.58 40-yard dash, 44.5-inch vertical, 4.14-second shuffle, and 43-foot power ball toss to post the nation’s highest SPARQ score, 138.30. That earned him an offer from Harbaugh — his only other offers at the time were in-state schools, New Mexico and New Mexico State — and also an invite to The Opening at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon.

When Michigan offered after his performance in Dallas, he was excited to get a big-time offer from a school like Michigan.

“I was very happy when Mr. Harbaugh offered me,” Samuels said. “Coach Tyrone Wheatley said I am a freak and I have a lot of great attributes. They said I would fit into their program. I was so happy because Michigan is a great program with some great coaches.”

Although California, Arizona, and TCU have offered since then, a visit to Ann Arbor for the spring game on Friday was enough to convince Samuels to go blue. He’s the 11th member of the 2017 class and joins fellow running backs Kurt Taylor and A.J. Dillon in the class.

New in Blue: 2017 RB A.J. Dillon

Monday, March 28th, 2016


AJ Dillon(Lawrence Academy photo)

A.J. Dillon – RB | 6-1, 230 | Groton, Mass. (Lawrence Academy)
ESPN3-star, NR Rivals4-star, #16 RB 2474-star, #18 RB Scout: 3-star, #41 RB
247 Composite: 4-star, #19 RB
Other top offers: Notre Dame, Florida State, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Nebraska, Mississippi State

Michigan landed two commitments last week and wasted no time kicking off this week with another. A.J. Dillon, a 2017 running back from Groton, Mass., pledged his commitment to the Wolverines on Monday morning.

Dillon is a four-star according to both Rivals and 247 and the 247 Sports Composite. ESPN and Scout both rate him as a three-star. Rivals ranks Dillon as the 16th-best running back in the class, while 247 ranks him 18th. Scout ranks him 41st and ESPN does not have him ranked yet.

At 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, Dillon has college size already. He’s two inches taller than De’Veon Smith is currently and the same weight. He’s the same height and 20 pounds heavier than Drake Johnson and Kareem Walker. And he’s the same weight but two inches shorter than Ty Isaac.

Scout lists Dillon’s strengths as balance, change of direction, foot quickness, hands, power, size, tackle-breaking ability, toughness and vision. They list his areas to improve as acceleration, breakaway speed, cutback ability, and elusiveness. Brian Dohn expands on that.

“Dillon is a rugged, tough, between-the-tackles runner who is difficult to bring down on first contact. He is thick and strong in the lower body, and tackles often bounce off of him. He has good vision and quick feet. He is able to make subtle moves and change direction in short space. He is best moving up the field and is a downhill runner. He secures the football well and he can break tackles. He does not have breakaway speed, but that does not matter. His ability to find the hole and get through it, and to run in traffic, stand out.”

247’s Clint Brewster also has high praise for Dillon:

“Dillon has college-ready size at 6-foot-1, and around 230-pounds. He’s got a nice frame and a chiseled body type. Dillon’s a hard-charging downhill running back that really pounds the rock. He doesn’t waste time hitting the hole and can move the pile. He plays with an old-school ruggedness that would fit well in a downhill running scheme like Michigan’s. Dillon’s got a real fluid jump-cut and nice maneuverability to get skinny through the hole when he needs to.”

The Lawrence Academy star has averaged 9.3 yards per carry while rushing for 3,255 yards and 47 touchdowns in the past two seasons, according to 247. He picked Michigan over offers from Notre Dame, Florida State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Mississippi State, and Virginia Tech, to name a few. He received his Michigan offer on Jan. 27 and visited Ann Arbor last weekend, sandwiched in between visits to Notre Dame and Wisconsin.

Dillon is the second running back in the 2017 class, joining three-star Covington, Ga. back Kurt Taylor. He’s the seventh member of the class as a whole, the fifth of which on the offensive side of the ball.

New in Blue: 2016 RB Kareem Walker

Thursday, December 17th, 2015


Kareem Walker (Don Smith, NorthJersey.com)

Kareem Walker – RB | 6-11, 210 | Wayne, N.J. – De Paul Catholic
ESPN: 4-star, #1 RB Rivals: 4-star, #1 RB 247: 4-star, #2 RB Scout: 5-star, #2 RB
Other top offers: Florida State, Alabama, Arizona State, Ohio State, MSU, USC, Oregon

The nation’s top running back, Kareem Walker made it two for two for Michigan this week. Just a day after Hollywood, Fla. linebacker chose Michigan over Florida State, the Wayne, N.J. native announced his commitment to the Wolverines during a ceremony at his school on Thursday afternoon.

Walker is widely regarded as one of the top running backs in the 2016 class. Rivals and ESPN rank him the best, while Scout and 247 have him second behind Clemson commit Tavien Foster and Penn State commit Miles Sanders, respectively. Scout is the lone site to give Walker a fifth star, and lists his strengths as balance, instincts, and power. His areas to improve are listed as blocking ability, breakaway speed, and vision. Scout recruiting analyst Brian Dohn expands on that.

“Walker runs well between the tackles and is explosive through the hole,” Dohn said. “He runs with a low center of gravity and is difficult to bring down on first contact. He can get to the edge but needs to improve on finding the hole when the play isn’t blocked well in front of him.”

Walker originally committed to Ohio State during the national championship game on Jan. 12, but decommitted from the Buckeyes on Nov. 3. His recruitment picked up since then with Michigan, Alabama, Florida State, and Arizona State in hot pursuit. But it was the Wolverines that won over his services.

Michigan’s running game has been largely ineffective the past few seasons with just one 1,000-yard rushing running back — Fitzgerald Toussaint in 2010 — since Mike Hart’s senior season in 2007. This season, De’Veon Smith led the Wolverines with 644 yards, but the majority of those came early in the season. He averaged just 44.7 yards per game in Big Ten play. Walker, meanwhile, rushed for 1,607 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at De Paul Catholic High School in New Jersey this season.

As a big back with the explosiveness and quick feet that Smith lacks, Walker will get a chance to battle for playing time right away. Jim Harbaugh showed this season that he’s not above putting anyone out there who he feels might give the offense a spark. Smith led the team with 155 carries, but 10 different running backs or fullbacks got carries, nine of them double digit carries. That includes freshman Karan Higdon, who carried the ball 11 times for 19 yards. Walker will get the chance and if his performance warrants carries Harbaugh will give them to him.

Walker is the fourth running back in the class, joining Prattville, Ala. back Kingston Davis, Winchester, Ind. back Kiante Enis, and Indianapolis, Ind. back Chris Evans, but Enis and Evans are unlikely to stick in the backfield. Both are officially listed as athletes and could play slot receiver, or even switch to the defensive side of the ball. Davis, meanwhile, is expected to sign his grant-in-aid package today at 2pm, locking him in as an early enrollee. The addition of Walker should vault Michigan’s recruiting class to the top — or near the top — of the class rankings on all the major sites with just a few spots left to fill before national signing day.

Predicting Michigan 2015: The running backs

Thursday, July 16th, 2015


PredictingMichigan-RunningBacks

Miami Ohio v Michigan

It seems long ago that five-star recruit Derrick Green’s commitment to the University of Michigan sent former head coach Brady Hoke into tears of joy. Ever since that day (Jan. 26, 2013), Michigan’s offense has left fans crying for another reason.

Though much of the blame for the team’s poor rushing performance over the past few years belongs to the offensive line, a few highly-regarded running backs have certainly struggled to live up to the hype. Green and classmate De’Veon Smith, once regarded near-elite talents in the running game, have failed to combine for 1,000 rushing yards in a single season midway through their college careers.

With an improving offensive line and even more viable options in the backfield, the rushing game should see a marked improvement in 2015.

Potential starters

For a team that struggled to rush the ball consistently under Hoke, Michigan does return a slew of potential weapons for Jim Harbaugh’s maiden voyage. Perhaps the most interesting case is that of Drake Johnson, who took the reins in the second half of last season before an injury ended his campaign a few quarters early at Ohio State.

Ty Isaac

Ty Isaac showed promise as a freshman at USC in 2013 and will get a chance to lead Michigan’s backfield this fall (David Cleveland, AP)

Johnson earned a chance at the top spot against Indiana, when he rushed for 122 yards and two scores on 16 carries. Though he only gained 30 yards on 10 carries against Northwestern, the junior finished on a strong note, gaining 168 yards and scoring twice on 29 carries in the team’s final two games. He averaged just over six yards per carry in 60 total attempts and scored four touchdowns. If he fully recovers in time for the season, Johnson will get a shot to win the starting job.

But even with a full recovery, Johnson’s ceiling is much lower than that of Derrick Green, who started to run more effectively before breaking his collar bone midway through the 2014 season. Green rushed for 170 yards on 15 carries in the opener against Appalachian State and averaged 6.2 yards per carry against both Miami (Ohio) and Rutgers.

Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Green didn’t show up to the two biggest games of his season, rushing for only 31 yards on 19 combined carries against Notre Dame and Minnesota. As a freshman in 2013, Green averaged fewer than four yards per carry in eight of the 11 games he played in and failed to record a single 100-yard game.

Green offers the best combination of power and athleticism in the Michigan running back unit, which should give him a leg up as the Wolverines transition into a more power-based offensive attack under Harbaugh. But the junior will ultimately have to find his consistency and earn the job on the field, something he’s been unable to do through two seasons.

De’Veon Smith, often the forgotten man behind Green — and later Johnson — in the rotation, stood as the only Michigan back to carry the ball in every single game last season. Smith led the team with 519 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry.

Though Smith developed a bit of a nose for the end zone last season, he earned only 108 carries in 12 games and gained over 60 yards in a game only twice – a 115-yard effort in the opener against Appalachian State and a 121-yard game in Northwestern.

Smith is the most stable running back on Michigan’s depth chart; he has neither an outstanding chance to over perform nor a colossal chance to fail. The best case scenario for Michigan would be one of the more explosive backs earning the starting job so that Smith can slot into a productive backup role he clearly deserves.

The final piece of the starting running back puzzle is USC transfer Ty Isaac, who came to Ann Arbor after one season with the Trojans. Isaac received only 40 carries for USC as a true freshman in 2013, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns.

A former five-star recruit out of Illinois, Isaac stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs around 240 pounds. If he does win the job, he’s got the best body to become a workhorse and take over the Michigan offense. He was a single-cut back coming out of high school with good burst and quick feet for his size. Isaac can also be a weapon in the passing game, which can only help his chances with a new quarterback taking over the system.

My initial reaction to this four-man battle for the starting job was that Green and Johnson, who each put together solid half-seasons before injuries last season, would head into the season as frontrunners. But Isaac’s size and agility might actually be the deciding factors if he can shake off the rust from a year on the sideline.

New running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley has a tough decision ahead of him in naming a starting back, but too much talent is a good problem to face.

Projected Stats – Isaac
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
120 672 5.6 8 51.7
Career Stats
2013* 40 236 5.9 2 16.9
Totals 40 236 5.9 2 16.9
*All at USC
Projected Stats – Green
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
95 510 5.4 6 39.2
Career Stats
2014 82 471 5.7 3 78.5
2013 83 270 3.3 2 20.8
Totals 165 741 4.5 5 39.0
Projected Stats – Johnson
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
60 340 5.7 4 26.2
Career Stats
2014 60 361 6.0 4 30.1
2013 2 9 4.5 0 9.0
2012 0 0 N/A 0 N/A
Totals 62 370 6.0 4 28.5
Projected Stats – Smith
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
50 235 4.7 6 18.1
Career Stats
2014 108 519 4.8 6 43.3
2013 26 117 4.5 0 9.8
Totals 134 636 4.7 6 26.5

Newcomer

Michigan added another piece to the running back corps through recruiting this spring, flipping three-star Karan Higdon from Iowa at the last minute. The 5-foot-10, 190 pound back rushed for 15 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards on 185 carries as a junior and gives Michigan a quick outside runner who can make defenders miss in the open field.

Higdon committed to Wheatley on Feb. 4 as one of the first recruits to join Harbaugh’s class. He’s a north-south runner, which will fit well into the new offensive scheme, and has above-average power for a light back.

With the four upper classmen mentioned above, it’s possible that Higdon will take a redshirt as a freshman, perhaps to add more weight before hitting the field in 2016. But as the only guy on the team who was actually recruited by Harbaugh, don’t count anything out.

Projected Stats – Higdon
Redshirt or very little playing time this fall

Meet the rest

Antonio Whitfield, junior, 5’4″, 160, from Canal Winchester, Ohio, no career stats

Junior Wyatt Shallman‘s claim to fame so far in his first couple of years at Michigan was adopting a wallaby last month. On the field, he has recorded just one carry in last year’s season opener against Appalachian State. He was featured in the spring game in April, gaining 22 yards on 12 carries while Johnson and Isaac sat out, but in a crowded backfield he won’t see much time this fall.

Projected Stats – Shallman
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
5 21 4.2 0 1.6
Career Stats
2014 1 5 5.0 0 0.4
2013 0 0 N/A 0 N/A
Totals 1 5 5.0 0 0.4

New in Blue: 2016 RB Kiante Enis

Thursday, June 4th, 2015


Kiante Enis(Joshua Smith, Palladium-Item)

Kiante Enis – RB | 6-1, 200 | Winchester, Ind. – Winchester Community School
ESPN: NR Rivals: 3-star, #54 RB 247: 3-star, #36 RB Scout: 3-star, #26 RB
Other top offers: Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana, Cincinnati, Bowling Green

On day one of Michigan’s “Summer Swarm” satellite camp tour, Jim Harbaugh landed his second commitment in as many days. Winchester, Ind. running back Kiante Enis gave his verbal to the Maize and Blue following Thursday’s camp at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis.

Enis is currently a three-star recruit, ranked as the 26th-best running back in the 2016 class by Scout, 36th by 247, and 54th by Rivals. ESPN doesn’t have him ranked. Enis is listed at 6’1″ or 6’2″ and between 190 and 200 pounds.

Scout lists Enis’ strengths as recovery ability, size, and speed, while noting that his areas to improve are backpedal quickness and elusiveness with catch. He also plays defensive back and could potentially end up there at Michigan. Scout had this to say about Enis:

“Fast, long kid who needs to settle in on a position. Highly productive high school running back but may be more of a safety or another position in college. Explosive and can run away from defenders in the open field and shows good closing ability on defense. Solid tackler if asked to play on that side of the ball.”

Last season at Winchester Community High School, Enis rushed for 3,189 yards and 49 touchdowns. He also recorded 42 tackles and four interceptions and averaged 33.9 yards per kick return with one touchdown and 46 yards per punt return with one touchdown.

Enis visited Michigan last weekend and didn’t take long to make his commitment official, pledging to the Wolverines over Michigan State and his in-state Indiana Hoosiers. He joins fellow running backs Kingston Davis and Matt Falcon, offensive linemen Michael Onwenu and Erik Swenson, quarterback Brandon Peters, and linebackers Dele’ Harding and David Reese in the 2016 class.

New in Blue: 2016 RB Matt Falcon

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015


Matt Falcon(Scout.com)

Matt Falcon – RB | 6-1, 215 | Southfield, Mich. – Southfield
ESPN: 3-star, NR Rivals: 4-star, #13 RB 247: 4-star, #13 RB Scout: 4-star, #8 RB
Other top offers: Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, Nebraska, Tennessee, Arizona State, Arkansas, West Virginia

Just two days after landing a commitment from running back Kingston Davis, Jim Harbaugh picked up a more highly-rated running back in the form of Southfield, Mich. rising senior Matt Falcon. The 6’1″, 215-pound back teased fans throughout the day with tweets foreshadowing some big news and finally dropped it shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern time.

Falcon is a four-star recruit according to Rivals, 247, and Scout, and a three-star per ESPN. However, the latter hasn’t updated its rankings since last summer, and he’s surely to rise once the rankings are updated. In fact, recruiting analyst Tom Lemming tweeted as much just after Falcon announced his commitment.

 

Currently, Scout has Falcon rated the highest as the eighth-best running back in the 2016 class, while Rivals and 247 each list him 13th. Scout also has him 149th nationally, while 247 has him 263rd. They all have him either 6’0″ or 6’1″ and between 200 and 215 pounds.

The offers have been coming in in droves the past few months as Nebraska, North Carolina, Arizona State, Arkansas, and Oregon have all offered since late February. Falcon, who lives and plays in the Detroit suburb of Southfield — just 40 minutes northeast of Ann Arbor — received the coveted Michigan offer on Feb. 17. He unofficially visited Michigan just 10 days later, and again in March, before visiting again for the spring game last weekend. He had also visited Ohio State last November for the Michigan game.

Falcon joins Davis, fullback David Reese, quarterback Brandon Peters, offensive lineman Erik Swenson, and linebacker Dele’ Harding in the 2016 class and almost certainly fills out the backfield recruiting for the cycle.

New in Blue: 2016 RB Kingston Davis

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015


Kingston Davis(Kenny Moss, Opelika-Auburn News)

Kingston Davis – RB | 6-1, 225 | Prattville, Ala. – Prattville
ESPN: NR Rivals: 3-star, NR 247: 3-star, #3 FB Scout: 3-star, #100 RB
Other top offers: Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indiana, Bowling Green, Ohio, Toledo

Jim Harbaugh continued his hot recruiting streak on Monday with a commitment from class of 2016 running back Kingston Davis. The 6’1″, 225-pound Prattville, Ala. native tweeted his commitment first thing in the morning.

Davis is a three-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services. ESPN and Rivals don’t have him ranked at his position, while 247 lists him as the third-best fullback and Scout ranks him as the 100th-best running back. They’re all pretty much in agreement about his size as ESPN has him 6’0″ but the other three 6’1″ and all have him between 225 and 230. That puts him an inch or two taller than Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith and roughly in the same neighborhood of weight.

Davis comes from Prattville, Ala. where Harbaugh secured a commitment from his teammate Keith Washington on National Signing Day. Harbaugh is also hosting a satellite camp in Prattville this summer, to the ire of Auburn’s Gus Malzahn. In addition to Michigan, Davis held offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Louisville, Southern Miss, and some smaller FBS schools. He was offered back in January and visited for the spring game over the weekend and it was enough to convince him to pledge to the Wolverines.

As a junior last season for the Lions, Davis rushed for 1,432 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 7.5 yards per carry, as they reached the state championship game in Class 7A.

In the span of three days, Harbaugh has rounded out an entire backfield for the 2016 class with quarterback Brandon Peters, fullback David Reese, and now Davis. They join offensive lineman Erik Swenson and linebacker Dele’ Harding in the class.

Recruiting profile: 2015 RB signee Karan Higdon

Friday, February 6th, 2015


Karan Higdon

Previously: 2015 TE Chris Clark, 2015 CB Iman Marshall, 2015 QB Zach Gentry

Karan Higdon – RB | 5-10, 190 | Sarasota, Fla. – Riverview
ESPN: 3-star, #70 RB Rivals: 3-star, #45 RB 247: 4-star, #29 RB Scout: 3-star, #84 RB
Other top offers: Iowa, Arizona, Tennessee, Arkansas, Syracuse, South Florida, Kentucky, Nevada

One of the first commits flipped to Michigan on National Signing Day, Karan Higdon swapped Hawkeye black and gold for the maize and blue of Michigan in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The diminutive running back out of Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla. offers eye-brow raising athleticism to a Michigan backfield that is stocked with powerful runners the likes of Derrick Green, Ty Isaac, De’Veon Smith, and possibly Drake Johnson. Higdon brings a different dimension to the Wolverines’ stable of backs, but may not have the overall ability to make much a difference in his collegiate career.

Inside Running

Inside Running - Karan HigdonHigdon measures in at approximately 5’9” and 185-pounds, by no means an intimidating, downhill runner. Higdon shows very good burst out of his stance and getting through holes between the tackles. However, he rarely is able to break one-on-one tackles and relies on his ability to dance away from defenders than to run through them. Higdon is able to lower his pads into contact and shows the determination to run his legs on contact, but will have to make his mark outside of the tackles to be an impactful running back.

Outside Running

Outside Running - Karan HigdonHigdon’s athletic ability as an outside of the box runner made him dangerous at the high school level and he shows the ability to transition that ability into forcing opposing defenses to respect his ability to make plays on the outside. Higdon has very good jump-cutting ability and impressive stop-start transition to elude would-be tacklers. While he has good speed, Higdon won’t make anyone forget about the likes of Chris Rainey and LaMichael James, both of whom had electric speed to outrun angles and take the perimeter with ease. Higdon will need to improve his ability to read blocks and find running lanes in order fully take advantage of his athletic gifts.

Catching

Catching - Karan HigdonThough rarely used in the passing game, Higdon showed flashes of pass catching ability at Riverview High. Higdon has a small catching radius, but is able to catch the football outside of his frame and has the quick acceleration to pick up big yards after the catch.

Blocking

Blocking - Karan HigdonFew running backs the size of Higdon are effective pass blockers at the collegiate level and Higdon is no exception. While he shows a willingness to get in the way and will get out in front of his quarterback when scrambling, Higdon simply lacks the strength and stature at this point to fill the third down back void left by the departure of graduate transfer Justice Hayes.

Bottom Line

Michigan has several running backs on scholarship who have the potential to become above average rushers at the collegiate level, and Karan Higdon is one of them. However, Higdon is somewhat of a one-trick pony who relies on his speed and athleticism to make plays with the ball in his hands and doesn’t have the tools to succeed between the tackles. Look for Higdon to become a complementary piece in the backfield within the next couple of seasons as a threat to stretch the field horizontally.

MG&B Grade (out of 10)
8.0 (3-star)

As the first running back commitment since the 2013 class, and a signing day surprise at that, Higdon should become a fan favorite at Michigan. His high school coach — a Michigan fan — posted on MGoBlog a long description of Higdon’s recruitment and how Michigan landed him. You should definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

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Alex is currently a senior at UM-Dearborn and has a background in scouting and player evaluation, having learned from some of the best in the business. He contributes a weekly recruit profile/evaluation piece each Friday. Visit our Meet the Staff page to read more about Alex.

New in Blue: 2015 running back Karan Higdon

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015


Karan Higdon(preps.heraldtribune.com)

Karan Higdon – RB | 5-10, 190 | Sarasota, Fla. – Riverview
ESPN: 3-star, #70 RB Rivals: 3-star, #45 RB 247: 4-star, #29 RB Scout: 3-star, #84 RB
Other top offers: Iowa, Arizona, Tennessee, Arkansas, Syracuse, South Florida, Kentucky, Nevada

Jim Harbaugh is still hoping to convince four-star running back Mike Weber to flip from Ohio State back to Michigan, but even if he doesn’t, he got a nice consolation prize on National Signing Day in Sarasota, Fla. running back Karan Higdon.

Higdon is a four-star recruit according to 247 and a three-star according to ESPN, Rivals, and Scout. 247 ranks him as the 29th-best running back in the class, while Rivals has him 45th, ESPN 70th, and Scout 84th. None of the sites rank him nationally, but 247’s composite rankings have him as the 478th-best overall recruit in the 2015 class.

He had been committed to Big Ten foe Iowa since Oct. 28, but Michigan offered him at the last minute and it was enough to flip him to the Wolverines. Since Michigan didn’t take a running back in last year’s class, he has some room to grow behind juniors Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, redshirt junior Drake Johnson, and redshirt sophomore Ty Isaac.

Stay tuned for more commitment news as National Signing Day rolls on.