Michigan Football Recruiting: 5 Running Backs Who Would Make Great Wolverines
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With Fitzgerald Toussaint "officially" Michigan's premier tailback, gazing into the position's future has become much clearer.
As Michigan continues to transition toward a pro-style offense, Thomas Rawls, Drake Johnson and Sione Houma should become the Wolverines' stout tailbacks down the road. The coaching staff often speaks of a downhill attack, and these 220- to 230-pounders will be carrying the load.
That goes without speaking of the quick hitters like Justice Hayes (5'10", 176 lbs.) and Dennis Norfleet (5'7", 165 lbs.), who will be hiding behind the new fleet of linemen and hard-hitting fullbacks.
Michigan already has a running-back commit for the 2013 class. He's Wyatt Shallman, a 6'3", 245-pound FB/DE from Detroit Catholic Central. While rated the top fullback nationally by Scout.com, Shallman is intent on playing tailback for the Wolverines.
Regardless of where Shallman actually lands, Michigan will be taking one or two more running backs in the 2013 class.
With Michigan's success on the field in 2011 and in the 2012 and 2013 recruiting wars, Ann Arbor is once again a popular address. Five highly skilled ball players stand out as possible Wolverine running backs. Let's see which of the five will wind up in the Michigan backfield.
Michigan's top target in the 2013 recruiting class may well be Joliet (Ill.) Catholic's 6'2”, 220-pound Ty Isaac. Scout's top-ranked running back in the nation, Isaac is already familiar with the Michigan campus.
His most recent visit was last weekend, but he is still undecided pending an upcoming visit to Southern Cal.
According to Isaac (via Scout.com):
I’m definitely really comfortable with them (Michigan's staff) and I like them a lot. It’s just that I’ve had this USC trip planned. It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit. I want to (visit) everywhere that I think I might want to be. Then I’ll be able to sit down and say, "This is what I want to do," instead of making a decision without doing some things that I want and then having that kind of wavering feeling.
Isaac had a phenomenal junior year, rushing for 2,114 yards. The effort earned him the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year Award and 14 major offers, including Ohio State, Auburn and Tennessee.
Prediction: Southern Cal
The timing couldn't be better.
With Ty Isaac off to visit Southern Cal, Deveon Smith might march into Ann Arbor this weekend and commit to the Wolverines. That would suit his father just fine, even though the family practically lives in the shadow of Ohio State's Horseshoe.
“It's all in fun. He's behind me no matter what school I go to," Smith told ESPN. "He would like me to go to Michigan over Ohio State, though."
The Wolverine's have a distinct advantage if the final decision is between Michigan and Ohio State.
At 5'11”, 210 pounds, Smith is a true I-formation running back, someone who embraces where Michigan's offense is headed, and not a read-option back like Ohio State's Urban Meyer is likely to employ.
With Michigan's running back options closing fast, Smith might be feeling the pressure to commit, especially with Isaac in the wings and another running back visiting this weekend, too.
He's not just another running back. Armed with sprinter's speed (4.31), a power runner's size (5'11", 220 lbs.) and more than 20 offers, 4-star recruit Derrick Green might draw Smith's attention.
Derrick Green, the speedy running back from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage HS will be visiting Wisconsin and Michigan this weekend, then Ohio State on March 19.
At 5'11”, 220 pounds, Green likes Michigan's power-I offense ahead of Urban Meyer's read-option attack (via Scout.com):
I know (Michigan) runs a spread (currently) because they have Denard Robinson, but like I said, Coach (Fred Jackson) said after (Denard) leaves and by the time I graduate (high school), they’re going to be back to a pro style offense. I like that a lot. Like I said, that’s my favorite.
The Wolverines are no strangers to Richmond. Green plays in the same league that produced former Wolverines David Terrell and Brandon Minor.
In fact, Hermitage High is home to Darren and Jamie Sharper, two former NFL stars who played at William & Mary and Virginia, respectfully.
Green, who was clocked in 4.31 for the 40, already has more than 20 offers. There's no question Brady Hoke would like to land the speedster before Meyer gets his chance.
For Michigan fans who suffered through the Ohio State streak and that embarrassing Gator Bowl loss, here's something from Justin Davis, the third-rated running back in nation.
“Michigan is getting things turned around and getting back to that winning tradition,” he told Scout.com. “They are the winningest program in college football history, and they have the biggest stadium. Michigan has fans that care about what they are doing there.”
Davis, rated a 5-star prospect by Scout, is beginning to see an entrance way to the NFL, like several other top recruits are seeing, too.
“Michigan used to be a spread offense; now they run a pro-style offense and I like that they switched back to power football," Davis said. "They have won games like that in the past and I am glad they went back to that style of football.
It wasn't that long ago when Michigan was loaded with pro-style quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and linemen. One look around the league and it's apparent that Michigan was one of the league's top suppliers.
With running backs like Justin Davis showing so much interest in the Wolverines, there's no doubt Michigan will get its old job back.
Su'a Cravens, a multi-talented 5-star athlete from Vista (Calif.) Murrieta HS, has offers from practically every major school in the country.
Most recruiting services have him listed as a future safety, but Cravens can also play outside linebacker, wide receiver and running back. "I don't care where I play," Cravens told 247sports. "I just want to play wherever gets me on the field the fastest."
So there's no reason Brady Hoke doesn't hand Cravens the keys to the to the entire equipment room (just kidding).
Seriously, Michigan does have an advantage in the recruiting derby.
“I was excited when I received the Michigan offer," Cravens told Scout.com. "Coach Brady Hoke has been recruiting me since he was at San Diego State."
As a sophomore, Cravens made 100 tackles and rushed for 673 yards and 15 touchdowns, while catching 20 passes for 339 yards and four scores.
The ninth-rated overall player by 247sports, Cravens plans an official visit to Ann Arbor this fall.