ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is pleased with the performance of his running backs and fullbacks so far this season.
And when the No. 3 Wolverines take the field Saturday for their 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Illinois at Michigan Stadium, Harbaugh could have another running back at his disposal: Drake Johnson.
The fifth-year senior hasn’t played in Michigan’s first six games, in part because of a soft-tissue injury suffered in an offseason forklift accident along with a muscle strain suffered in practice, though he did dress for Michigan’s last three games.
“Drake had a setback in practice,” Harbaugh said Tuesday on the Big Ten football coaches teleconference. “He strained a muscle and that set him back. He’s been rehabbing from that and that process has led him to being back.”
If Johnson returns this weekend, he’ll join a group of Michigan rushers who have 1,530 yards this season, including 481 on Oct. 8 in a 78-0 win at Rutgers. Freshman Chris Evans leads Michigan with 400 yards and 3 touchdowns on 48 carries.
Johnson has 641 yards and 8 touchdowns on 116 carries in 25 career games.
Johnson’s performance in practice has given Harbaugh confidence.
“He’s running and moving and I recognize that’s Drake Johnson, up to and near a full 100 percent,” Harbaugh said.