5 Reasons Derrick Green Will Start for Michigan in 2013
After an outstanding performance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5, and a thorough examination of his top schools, 5-star running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va.) chose to become commitment No. 27 for the Michigan Wolverines' 2013 recruiting class (via Rivals).
Given the fact Michigan's rushing offense finished No. 43 in the nation last season (only averaging 183.8 yards per game), and three-time leading rusher Denard Robinson is out of eligibility, there is a wide open competition at running back in Ann Arbor.
Green will be one of the favorites to take over the starting job this season, and I expect the No. 8 overall prospect to get a substantial amount of carries as a reserve to start the season before rising to the top of the depth chart by mid-October.
Click ahead to read about the five reasons why Green will take over as Michigan's starting running back this year!
Note: All prospect rankings are courtesy of Rivals.com.
His Work Ethic
Derrick Green will put in the work necessary to succeed at Michigan. Video courtesy of YouTube.com.
It is quite hard to believe, but at one point Derrick Green looked more like an offensive lineman than a workhorse running back.
Green's speed earned him a spot at fullback as an underclassman, but the Richmond, Va. native was set on becoming a running back, so he sought out a trainer, significantly altered his diet and hit the weight room harder than ever before to slim down.
"I told (the trainer) I was a running back and he said, 'Nah, I don't see a running back. I see a defensive tackle or something.'" Green told ESPN.com's Dave Hooker last May. "My only words to him were, 'I'm going to show you.' I worked hard with him, lost the weight and cut it down."
Eventually, Green went from being a chunky 268-pound fullback to a shredded and physically dominant 215-pound bruiser.
The hard-working mentality Green has already put on display will pay huge dividends as he prepares to compete for a starting job with the rest of the running backs on the Michigan Wolverines' 2013 roster.
Michigan's Offense Will Play Toward His Strengths
Taylor Lewan should help pave plenty of holes for Green to run through in 2013.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Contrary to popular belief, offensive coordinator Al Borges is one of the top assistants in college football and will put Derrick Green in positions to succeed rather than set the incoming freshman up for failure in 2013.
The return of All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield (who had a breakout season at right tackle a year ago) will give Green a couple of talented blockers to follow.
Former 5-star recruit Kyle Kalis is one of the favorites to take over at left guard for departing senior Ricky Barnum, which means the Michigan Wolverines should not have too many problems running behind the Lakewood, Ohio product and Lewan.
Michigan is still transitioning to a pro-style offense and will want to consistently establish a physical rushing attack, which is exactly what Green is built for, so if he does get a shot as a starter this season expect to see a heavy dose of isolation and power runs.
He's a Triple-Threat Running Back
Derrick Green can do it all out of the backfield. Video courtesy of YouTube.com.
Although Derrick Green's greatest assets are his size, strength and toughness, the 6'0", 220-pounder has also displayed soft hands and the ability to pick up blitzes as a blocker.
The best running backs in the country are asked to do more than simply tote the rock these days, and Green's unique combination of skills will allow him to be an every-down back rather than simply a situational player.
"(Green) does show more than adequate hands as an outlet receiver, and has the size to pick up the blitz," ESPN.com's scouting report reads. "Green projects to produce highly in a downhill, heavy power-running offense at the next level that can feed this north/south workhorse the ball."
It is quite early for comparisons, but watching Green on film reminds me a lot of former Michigan Wolverines Anthony Thomas and Chris Perry. Thomas has Green's brute strength and physicality, while Perry has Green's speed and athleticism.
Green will be tough to keep off of the field in 2013 if he consistently puts these athletic tools on display during summer practices.
Lack of Established Talent
It is unknown at this point whether Fitzgerald Toussaint will be able to bounce back from a horrifying ankle injury.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
It is no secret the Michigan Wolverines struggled to establish any form of a running game in 2012, and while part of the blame for that falls on the offensive line, there is also a lack of established talent in the backfield, which sets up well for Derrick Green's chances to start as a true freshman.
Rising fifth-year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint does not appear to be the answer at running back despite his impressive 2011 campaign.
Thomas Rawls became the fan favorite to take over for Toussaint during the early portions of last season, but the rising junior only managed to grind out 242 yards and four touchdowns on 57 carries.
Former 3-star prospect Drake Johnson could make a push for the starting job as a redshirt freshman and Justice Hayes figures to be a part of the conversation as well given how poorly Michigan did running the ball a year ago.
Everything is wide open right now for the top spot at running back, so expect to hear Green's name among the top contenders come August.
His Physicality Running the Ball
Green displayed his physicality in the Army All-American Bowl earlier this month. Video courtesy of YouTube.com.
Perhaps the most prized trait Derrick Green possesses is his willingness to run through contact, put a shoulder into oncoming defenders and play a physical brand of football, which is exactly what the Michigan Wolverines will need to re-establish their dominance on the ground.
"This is an identity back. This is what Brady Hoke wants the offense to revolve around," ESPN.com's Tom Luginbill said on Sunday. "A downhill, power running game with a back that can be a bell cow."
Green does not shy away from tacklers and will bring a physicality to the running back position the Wolverines have been missing for quite some time.
"If you're in the way, I'm going to blow you up. I'm not going to try and shake you," Green told ESPN.com's Dave Hooker last May. "At my school, they call me 'The Freight Train.' I like that a lot. I'm going to run you over and let you know I'm here. I'm coming."
For this reason, Green will bring a level of toughness to the table none of Michigan's other running backs will be able to match and may seize the starting job during his first season as a Wolverine.