2018 Season Countdown: #7 Karan Higdon

2018 Season Countdown: #7 Karan Higdon

August 22, 2018

Karan Higdon (image via USA Today)

Name: Karan Higdon
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 202 lbs.
High school: Sarasota (FL) Riverside
Position: Running back
Class: Senior
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


  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1357
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Aug 22, 2018 at 8:21 AM

    Well, so far thats a prediction of 320 carries for 1,750 yards and 17 Tds on the ground. I’ll take that.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 22, 2018 at 9:50 AM

    My opinions are this:

    I’m buying the 1A/1B talk. I like Higdon/Evans both, they’re above average backs who offer a nice balance of ability. Not quite a typical Thunder/Lightning duo, but their skillsets are different enough that you might prefer feeding one or the other depending on the game. Higdon’s a little tougher, Evans a little more explosive. Both are reliable backs who can handle 20 carries.

    Bold prediction: The more productive back will be the healthier back.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 22, 2018 at 9:51 AM

      Combined, I think they’ll only go far as the OL takes them. Last year so much of the yardage was when the OL mauled the Minnesota’s and Maryland’s of the world. The run game (statistically good overall) wasn’t any better than recent season’s flailing against MSU, Wisc, etc.

      The real test is getting to 3 or 4 ypc in those games instead of 2 or 3. Go Ed Go.

      I’m skeptical about “it’s happening” OL talk. Even now, peak Optimism Season, it still doesn’t sound like any of the second year guys are really taking charge at tackle.

      But a few things give me hope. 1. Warriner vs. Drevno. 2. The potential of the Bradeson-Ruiz-Onwenu interior to be a reliable plus by mid-season. 3. Patterson to mitigate edge issues with his feet. 4. Not hearing any “Actually it might be Ulizio after all” talk.*

      *Though the “Actually it might be __True Freshman__ after all” talk isn’t much better.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 2
        Joined: 9/19/2015
        Aug 22, 2018 at 2:34 PM

        Agree with Lank that the real test will be opponents with a pulse, but there was at least a glimmer of hope in last year’s OSU game when the running backs collectively rushed for ~130 yards on 22 carries despite repeated missed opportunities in the passing game.

        At least with ND looming we won’t have to wait long to get a sense of how things will go in 2018. Guessing it’ll go better than most fans expect but not well enough to recall the glory days of Hart, etc.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Aug 22, 2018 at 3:24 PM

          I’d feel better about OSU if it wasn’t sandwiched by Wisc and SC.

          Wisc 37 for 58 1.6 ypc
          OSU 36 for 100 2.8 ypc
          So. Car 33 for 74 2.2 ypc

          I didn’t bother cutting out sacks so it was better than those stats but I don’t think removing FB carries is valid. That’s part of the offense and those guys being used in short-yardage inflates RB ypc.

          OL attrition was an issue in the bowl game.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 36
          Joined: 11/17/2015
          Aug 22, 2018 at 11:24 PM

          I wouldn’t get too down if the running game isn’t that great against ND. ND has a darn good defense and UM is going to be breaking a new oline, as well as new QB. I’m hoping that come mid-October the oline is much better then on Labor Day weekend.

          I have a lot of respect for Warinner but if you look at the year OSU won the NC, their oline wasn’t very good at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year they were mauling everyone in the running game, including Bama.

    • GKblue
      Comments: 359
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 22, 2018 at 2:46 PM

      Substantially agree Lanknows, but am not as confident in their durability (20 carries per game over the entire season). Maybe the S&C will get them there.

  3. Sextus Empiricus
    Comments: 4
    Joined: 9/30/2017
    Sextus Empiricus
    Aug 22, 2018 at 1:47 PM

    You have come a long way in your respect for Higdon, but this “glowing” (and largely positive) appraisal is all on Karan’s work ethic and character. Since his commit he has been a stellar contributor (as has Evans.)

    Higdon doesn’t have the high end bones of other greats (neither did Hart) but I couldn’t be happier with his progress and trajectory. For the 3 star mafia – Karan has a middle finger ready for deployment.

    WRT RBs however… the truth is in the line and whether the starting QB can get some respect. Higdon is not going to be able to break opportunities that aren’t there. Certainly he can exploit them. That is the story of his Michigan career to this point. Few have done it as well from a 5’10” frame.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 1863
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Aug 22, 2018 at 2:09 PM

    I like Higdon, but we need him to protect the dang ball

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