Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, and Tate Forcier have been making headlines all season long for the Wolverines.
However, on Saturday afternoon, it was the younger understudies who provided the punch for the Michigan football team in its slaughter over Delaware State.
It also provided a peek at the future of football in Ann Arbor.
This was especially true at the skill positions, particularly at running back.
Freshman Vincent Smith, redshirt freshman Michael Cox, and sophomore Michael Shaw, all running backs, saw extended playing time, and all three performed well.
Granted, the Maize and Blue were nearly unstoppable on a day where they broke a school-record for most offensive yards in a game. However, it also proved that Michigan is very, very deep at running back.
It bodes well for the future.
Many around the country and at Michigan have touted Smith as the next up-and-coming back, and he showed why Saturday.
The 5'6" back was rated as a top 100 prospect in Florida and a top 40 running back in the nation when he left high school. He rushed for 166 yards against Delaware State on Saturday and showed elusiveness throughout. He scored one of the six Michigan rushing touchdowns.
After Smith, the baton was handed to Cox, who didn't disappoint either.
Cox added 82 yards for the Maize and Blue with most of it coming on a 57-yard run down the sideline midway through the fourth quarter. He went on to plunge over the goal line one more time during the contest.
Freshman quarterback Denard Robinson also continued his development as he saw a lot of playing time in the first half. He was efficient and made plays both through the air and on the ground.
He threw just four passes, but made them count, completing three for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
Not all the coming-out parties were on offense.
Defensively, there was a one big play started by another young talent that led directly to a touchdown.
Redshirt freshman and four-star prospect Brandon Smith blocked a punt attempt, and it was recovered in the end zone by senior defensive end Brandon Graham. Rated as one of the best defensive prospects and third-best player in New Jersey by Rivals.com, Smith is expected to be a force on the defensive side of the ball for years to come.
Linebackers Kevin Leach and J.B. Fitzgerald saw extended time and played well. The linebacking unit is surprisingly deep and only loses Stevie Brown at the end of the year. With Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, Craig Roh, and others all coming back, the defensive front seven will be a strength, even with the loss of Brandon Graham next year.
But that's in 2010.
As for 2009 and this past Saturday, Michigan took a deep breath, added a win to its season total, and gave Michigan fans a glimpse at what the distant future holds for Michigan football.
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