Picture a pair of tree trunks attached to a steel core: That’s Mike Weber, who adds respectable speed and incredible strength to Michigan’s 2015 class.
The Detroit Cass Tech 4-star running back pledged to Wolverines coach Brady Hoke this past week, giving Michigan yet another high-mileage option for next fall and beyond. His commitment is important—that much is clear.
But how important?
It’s not like the Wolverines were dangerously short on help—they’ll have junior versions of De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green in 2015, not to mention Ty Isaac, who just transferred from USC, a school that courted Weber with a relentless hand.
However, the Technician isn’t just a running back; he symbolizes that Hoke’s influence remains heavy in the Great Lakes State.
Rankings, per 247Sports: No. 115 overall, No. 14 RB, No. 2 overall in state.
Note: For local reaction to Weber’s commitment, be sure to listen to the latest episode of Sports in the Mitten, hosted by yours truly. Detroit Radio 1’s Lauren Beasley, who has close ties to the Cass Tech senior, spoke highly of Weber’s work ethic. And although he didn’t choose Michigan State, Weber most certainly caught the attention of Spartan Mag’s Paul Konyndyk.
Maize ‘n Brew put together a nice scouting report on Weber. The guys at the Wolverines blog practice a bit of cautious optimism, but they like what they see.
Ring in Weber
Weber is the type of guy that Hoke wants and needs. Success in the Big Ten comes on the ground, and Michigan’s ghastly attempts haven’t yielded a 1,000-yard rusher since 2011 (Fitzgerald Toussaint).
This season should spark the necessary change, and Weber will be a part of that. He may not be the type to lead the league in rushing and flood the record books, but he’s capable of giving his team at least 25 solid carries each game.
Again, he’s a workhorse back—a player who reminds me a bit of former Spartans star Javon Ringer (5'9", 202 lbs at MSU), whose philosophy of “see hole, hit hole, run through” worked wonders for a developing, back-to-the-basics approach in East Lansing.
Now, don’t get upset about the Michigan State comparison. It fits. Ringer carried the ball nearly 400 times as a senior, tearing away chunks of yards from the field each Saturday—and he did well against Michigan too. I’m imagining a similar performance from Weber but maybe scaled down since he’ll be sharing the workload with Smith, Green and Isaac.
However, he could end up as the go-to back as a junior and senior. That would be ideal, obviously, as experienced backs typically provide a little comfort for coaches, teammates and fans. Having a proven commodity certainly trumps waiting for underclassmen to shine.
Can you say "program back"? I mean, let's not jinx the guy, but Weber is hardly a throw-in player. He's been one of Hoke's highest priorities for more than a year.
Punch the Clock
Back in June, at the Sound Mind Sound Body football camp in Detroit, Weber discussed his desire to compete for a starting position. He told me that he wasn’t afraid to go up against established players—his goal is to play and to play as soon as possible.
Sure, they all say that. But while standing face-to-face with what basically equates to an Abrams tank, I couldn’t help but feel that he was almost predicting, rather than wishing.
For that reason, I can’t see him not being on the field as a freshman. Star power? Probably not right then. But promises of things to come? Yeah, that’s a safe bet. He’s the right back for the “new” system being implemented by Doug Nussmeier.
Weber spoke highly of the new offensive coordinator, saying that he was looking forward to creating a strong bond with the former Alabama OC who’s working to awaken Michigan’s one-time feared running game.
Mixing Weber into a steady three-back rotation should be quite easy for Nussmeier, who orchestrated a Tide offense that squeezed out 205 yards per game. That was only good for No. 25 overall, but compare that to what Team 134 did—just 125.7 per outing—and there is reason to be optimistic about what Weber can do in the future and what Nussmeier will get started this fall.
The bottom line is this: Some guys are good fits. Some are great.
And some are meant to be. Weber, Michigan and Nussmeier are an ideal match.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81