Saturday, July 15, 2006

2006 Season Preview: The RBs

Who are they?

Mike Hart (Junior) - 2 year returning starter coming off an injury riddled 2005 season. When healthy, he's one of the elite backs in the nation and one of the best in Michigan history. But he wasn't exactly healthy last year and was only able to rack up 662 yards in follow up to his breakout 1455 yard freshman season.

Kevin Grady (Sophomore) - coming off a fairly good true freshman season, this former mega-recruit has slimmed down and is looking to do big things this year.

Jerome Jackson (Senior) - a solid, but not spectacular backup entering his final season for the Maize and Blue

Mister Simpson (RS Freshman) - from the same HS as BJ Askew and in the same mold. Not sure where he will fit in this year, but has some talent.

Alijah Bradley (RS Senior) - nice change of pace back and STs contributor

Carlos Brown (Freshman) - speed burner extraordinaire from Georgia who graduated HS early and has been enrolled at Michigan since January. He'll definitely be fighting for PT this year.

Brandon Minor (Freshman) - is he a speedy FB or a big TB? I'm not sure, but he's talented. But sheer numbers probably dictate that he'll redshirt this year.

What to expect this year?

Mike Hart - yes, he's still the man. Despite not starting until the 4th game of his freshman year and missing a ton of action last year, he already holds the Michigan record for 200 yard games in a career (4) as well as a single season (3). He's a threat to go over 150 yards in every single game. He's had 13 games in his career with at least 20 carries. In those 13 games, he has rushed for 1909 yards for an average of 147 per game and 12 TDs and Michigan's record is 11-2 with the only losses to Texas and Minnesota. When Hart doesn't get 20 carries, Michigan is only 5-6.

I think it's safe to say that Mike Hart needs a lot of carries if Michigan is going to win a lot of games. So what do I expect this year?

275 carries, 1500 yards, 5.45 yds/carry, 10 TDs

And on a purely subjective note, Mike Hart is my favorite back to watch in Michigan history. It used to be a tie between Tyrone Wheatley's blazing speed and Tim Biakabutuka's shifty feet, but Mike Hart is amazing. He's lucky if he's 5'8", yet the first tackler never gets him down. I've seen it take 4 players on his back to get him to the ground. His feet just never stop moving and he is always falling forward.

Kevin Grady - 494 yards and 5 TDs was a decent debut for the top recruit from the state of Michigan. This year he has trimmed some weight and is looking to hit the hole even faster. His bruising style is a nice change of pace from Mike Hart's quick feet and lightning quick change of direction. Grady has good vision to go with his size and should be a very good short yardage back.

100 carries, 500 yards, 5.0 yds/carry, 8 TDs

Carlos Brown - he's a speedster from down south that enrolled early and has been making a name for himself in practices and workouts. If Hart is the shifty back and Grady is the bruiser, then this is the blazer. Might not get a lot of carries this year, but he will likely break a few long ones. He's also in line to get some possible snaps at QB in trick play formations in place of injured Antonio Bass.

45 carries, 300 yards, 6.7 yds/carry, 3 TDs

Everybody else? I expect Alijah Bradley and Jerome Jackson to split garbage time carries as the #4 and #5 options on the team. Brandon Minor will likely redshirt. Mister Simpson might get a shot at some FB snaps.

Next up? The wide receivers and tight ends.



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