Name: Karan Higdon
Weight: 202 lbs.
High school: Sarasota (FL) Riverside
Position: Running back
Jersey number: #22
Last year: I ranked Higdon #36 and said he would be a backup running back with 80 carries for 440 yards and 5 TDs (LINK). He started seven games and ran the ball 164 times for 994 yards (6.1 YPC) and 11 touchdowns; he also caught 8 passes for 131 yards (16.4 yards/catch).
TTB Rating: 73
Going into the 2017 season, Higdon was pegged as the backup to Chris Evans at running back. It seemed like Higdon would be #2 on the depth chart. In an odd twist, Evans started game one and was outplayed by Ty Isaac, who had a short stint as the top guy. Then Higdon took over and hit his stride after the first third of the season. He truly broke out with 25 carries for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns against Indiana, including a 59-yard breakaway touchdown and the game-winning score in overtime. He had other stellar games against Minnesota (200 yards) and Rutgers (158 yards), and he was Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week (with teammate Evans) for his performance against the Gophers. My predictions for Higdon in 2017 were almost exactly 50% short in each category (80 carries to 164, 440 yards to 994, 5 TDs to 11).
Now the roles have switched. Higdon is the presumed star going into 2018, and Evans looks like the primary backup. Higdon has supposedly added significant weight and strength this off-season and has responded well to the new strength and conditioning staff. After finishing last season just shy of 1,000 yards (994, to be exact), he’s obviously a candidate to be Michigan’s first thousand-yard back since Fitzgerald Toussaint in 2011. The only other Big Ten teams not to achieve that feat since 2011 or earlier are such standout programs as Illinois, Purdue, and Rutgers. It’s hard not to like the upward trajectory of Higdon’s career, but it remains to be seen whether he can take over a game against quality opponents. His five career 100-yard games have come against Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Rutgers 2016, and Rutgers 2017. Naturally, a lot of that has to do with the offensive line, but Michigan’s running game still needs work overall. Michigan has another established back in Evans, but after that the depth chart gets a little thin and unproven.
Prediction: Starting running back; 200 carries for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns
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