Much of the talk around the practice field this spring was about competition at running back.
The opportunity was there for one of the candidates to distinguish himself from the others.
The only real concern is that Coach Brady Hoke is looking for more of a power back this time around. Someone who can run hard between the tackles.
Last season Vincent Smith was the workhorse, using his speed and elusiveness to excel in the spread option attack. Smith gained 601 Yards on 136 carries.
But Smith is on the small side for what Hoke has in mind. So Stephen Hopkins, Michael Cox, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Michael Shaw have become the front runners.
Smith might become a third-down pass catcher coming out of the backfield.
The sad truth is it doesn’t look like there are any potential All-Americans on the squad. That is, of course, if you’re not counting Denard Robinson who gained 1702 yards in 256 attempts from the quarterback slot.
But Coach Hoke promises to limit Robinson’s carries this fall, along with his punishment.
Hoke has also added a fullback to the attack this year, but John McColgan has never carried the ball and Hopkins will probably spend more time at running back.
The best hope might be in the freshman class. Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes are both highly touted recruits.
Ironically, Michigan has a history of great running backs. Anthony Thomas, Butch Woolfolk , Tyrone Wheatley and of course Tim Biakabutuka to name just a few.
Any of these, in their prime, could probably step in and win a starting job.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the past stars. The statistics speak for themselves.