Michigan running backs will be in solid shape for 2018
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How will Michigan look at running back? — Steve Pardue, via Facebook
Michigan is plentiful at running back as it prepares for 2018. The Wolverines return all but one back who contributed in 2017, and are in good position to make the most of the breadth and depth of their returnees.
Karan Higdon is in prime position to become Michigan’s bell-cow running back, following a season in which he ran for 994 yards and 11 touchdowns on 164 carries. Higdon has size, speed, shiftiness and a knack for finding holes on broken plays and maximizing rushing opportunities.
Chris Evans ran for 685 yards and 6 touchdowns on 135 carries in 2017. He came on strong late in the season as he ran for nearly 400 yards in Michigan’s final five games. But ball security will be an emphasis for Evans this season. At certain points in 2017, Evans had trouble containing the ball, even though he only lost one fumble.
Kareem Walker hasn’t left the Wolverines, contrary to reports earlier this year. In fact, he was spotted in Schembechler Hall this week, and high hopes are for Walker to have a breakout year. Walker had 20 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown in 2017, but his playing time was minimal, in part because of injuries.
The graduation of Ty Isaac will give Walker an opportunity to earn his spot in the running backs rotation. It could also be an opportunity for someone else to step in. O’Maury Samuels and Kurt Taylor return in the fall. Samuels had 8 carries for 13 yards, and Taylor redshirted. Two running backs also join the Wolverines’ fold when its freshman class arrives in the summer: Hassan Haskins a 3-star signee from Eureka, Mo., and Christian Turner, a 3-star signee from Buford, Ga.
Michigan’s running backs have operated almost by committee in the last three seasons. Unless running backs coach Jay Harbaugh decides to overhaul his own philosophies, don’t anticipate major changes among the running backs. Instead, expect some tinkering within, in preparation for the fall.
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