2008 Michigan Preview: Running Backs

For as much as Mike Hart meant to this squad the last 4 years, you would think his absence would be felt a little more. But non-stop injuries and the lasting effects of a high-ankle sprain last year were almost a blessing in terms of grooming this year's running backs.

As Michigan struggles to transition their QBs to the spread, they should have little trouble with the RBs. This position is, I believe, the most overlooked on the team by far. A highly talented trio of Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor and Kevin Grady should take a lot of pressure off of the inexperience at QB.

The projected starter and probably most talented of the group, Brandon Minor, should see the bulk of the carries. And while he will be backed up pretty well, his quickness and ability to block (both Michigan RB standards) should prove him well. Let's not forget, for all of the changes made in the last year at Michigan, the one thing that didn't change was the RB coach Fred Jackson. Rodriguez's spread has been rather run-happy the past few years at WV.

Minor's stats are actually quite mediocre so far in his college career. He did see action in every game in 07, but his only 100+ game was against Minnesota where he had 157 yards in 21 carries. His best outing as a kick returner was against Florida where he had 98 yards on 5 returns.

Also lining up in the backfield, Carlos Brown. Brown was a very stable 3rd string option when Hart was healthy, and a viable co-starter when Hart was out. His back to back 100+ yard games came in 07 after Hart's high-ankle sprain. Against Illinois (with Mike Hart out) he ran for 113 yards on 25 carries. And his all-time best outing came the following week against Minnesota with 132 yards on 13 carries, and 67 kick return yards on 3 returns. He did not, however, see any action against Ohio State or in the bowl game against Florida.

Kevin Grady is a big question mark for 2008. A few months ago, I would've said he'd be a legitimate starting contender, if not a solid backup. Now, after his little DUI a few weeks ago, and his "not-guilty" plee, who knows where he'll end up on the depth-chart. Couple that with a lagging knee-injury sustained last year in spring drills, and you really have no idea.

Before spring of 07, his career at Michigan looked bright. He was a solid backup for Hart in 05 and 06. His 05 season was by far the best so far. Hart being out helped in a big way. We know he'll be on the shit list for at least a couple games, if not the whole year. So we'll address his status as it develops.

But the real potential superstar in the backfield for this season, and more likely the season's to come is true-freshman Sam McGuffie from Cy-Fair HS in Texas. A brief rundown of his HS stats from mgoblue.com:
...tallied 699 career carries for 5,847 yards and 83 touchdowns ... carried the ball 205 times for 1,711 yards and scored 23 touchdowns during injury-shortened senior season ... rushed for 3,121 yards on 358 carries and scored 44 TDs as a junior ... carried the ball 115 times for 853 yards and scored 11 touchdowns sophomore season.
Not bad. My only worry is his injury he sustained in his senior year. Well, I guess my other only worry is his apparent "white-ness" and his lack of size. He reminds me of the hype that Justin Fargas had when he came to Michigan, only to change from RB to S, break his leg then transfer away and become hugely successful at USC and then in the NFL. Hopefully under the speed-friendly RR scheme, McGuffie he will find a good home here.

Up next: the much-awaited TE and OL preview.

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