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Michigan Football: Why Derrick Green Is the Wolverines' Next Great RB

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IISeptember 19, 2013

Michigan Football: Why Derrick Green Is the Wolverines' Next Great RB

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    Derrick Green, a former 4-star recruit, is the future of Michigan's ground game.
    Derrick Green, a former 4-star recruit, is the future of Michigan's ground game.Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Given his lack of action through three games, tabbing Derrick Green as "next" at Michigan is a bit early. 

    Debuting with promise, the 5'11", 240-pound freshman had 11 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown during the Wolverines' 59-9 dismantling of Central Michigan. Since then, versus Notre Dame and Akron, he's had two carries for a total of two yards. The former 4-star recruit, per 247 Sports, is one of the highest-rated players at Michigan since the inception of the star-ranking era. 

    Needless to say, Green was expected to be a star months before he put on a Wolverines uniform. The No. 8-ranked ball-carrier of the 2013 class is due for reps, that much is certain. Once he breaks out, the coaching staff should have no issue with giving the former Hermitage High (Richmond, Va.) standout the lion's share of totes. 

     

Green Fits the Mold

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    Derrick Green has had two carries in the past two weeks.
    Derrick Green has had two carries in the past two weeks.Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Bruising backs have long been part of Michigan's success on the ground. Lining up 6'0"-ish, 200-plus-pound tailbacks such as Ricky Powers, Tim Biakabutuka, Tyrone Wheatley and Anthony Thomas makes the offense so much more potent. 

    Once Green gets going, he could certainly develop into a Wheatley-esque down-hill runner. That's what he was recruited to do. 

    Offensive coordinator Al Borges recently told MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner that Green made positive strides during the Wolverines' romping of the Chippewas in Week 1.

    He's a pounding-type back. He's a big, strong kid that I'm sure they feel him when they tackle him. It was a great opportunity to get him running the ball some. The first game of the season, you never know what's going to happen, but we got him some carries and he got a feel for college football.

    He grew a little bit with those carries.

    Green suffered a minor ankle injury during fall camp, but other than that, he's been reported as healthy. Of course, ankle injuries can linger, so it's possible that Michigan doesn't want to rush him back. Fitz Toussaint hasn't been a forceful No. 1 this season, so prepping Green for that role is essential. 

He's Literally 'Next' at the Moment

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    Derrick Green ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash in high school.
    Derrick Green ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash in high school.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Green is one play away from being the No. 1 back. 

    An injury to or poor play from Toussaint would most definitely give Hoke's staff reason to lean on Green. And because of a season-ending ACL injury to Drake Johnson, the former No. 2, Michigan has no other choice but to go with Green. 

    It's clear that Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes are mere afterthoughts in the grand scheme of things. Productive at times, the pair of Flint-area juniors have been pushed down the depth chart to make way for Green.

    De'Veon Smith has had seven carries for 12 yards.

    Michigan isn't showing any signs of budging from Toussaint. However, once Green becomes the mainstay, he'll live atop the depth chart. 

     

He Has the Right OC

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    Derrick Green has the ideal skill set for Al Borges' style of running.
    Derrick Green has the ideal skill set for Al Borges' style of running.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Green and offensive coordinator Al Borges are a match made in College Football Heaven. 

    Borges likes to run in strong packages, such as the I-form, behind big and mobile tackles, which he has in All-American Taylor Lewan, left, and Michael Schofield, right.

    Due to excellent recruiting, there will be superior offensive lines during Green's career, which is another plus for him. 

    At Auburn from 2004-07, Borges had one of the best two-back systems the game has ever seen. With Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, the Tigers, who went 41-9 under Borges, were nearly unstoppable on the ground. Both were All-Americans and went on to the NFL. 

    Personnel doesn't matter much. Having two guys helps the cause, though. Nonetheless, Borges acquired Green and has the ideal system in which to feature the freshman.  Borges has worked with his own players and he's adapted to inherited rosters—and he's done just fine.

    It's early in Green's career, that much is true. But he's in a position to immediately flourish. 

     

Look at the Guy's Highlights

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    Being a phenomenon in high school doesn't guarantee glitz and glamour at the college level. 

    Well, that applies to most. Green is likely an exception to that rule. 

    While at Hermitage, Green made those around him appear foolish. It was unfair. Because of Green, droves of tacklers looked like they belonged at the JV level. 

    Green can absorb hits and deal out a few of his own. He's agile, powerful and alert.

    He's "next."

    Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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