On Saturday I covered the quarterback position, so here’s a look at the running back spot.
2023 NEEDS: 2
2023 COMMITMENTS: Dexter (MI) Dexter RB Cole Cabana, Kennesaw (GA) North Cobb RB Benjamin Hall
- Jaden Booker – Naples (FL) Palmetto Ridge: Undecided
- Dalton Brooks – Shiner (TX) Shiner: Texas A&M
- Jeremiah Cobb – Montgomery (AL) Catholic: Auburn
- Mark Fletcher – Fort Lauderdale (FL) American Heritage: Miami
- Justice Haynes – Buford (GA) Buford: Alabama
- Sedrick Irvin, Jr. – Miami (FL) Columbus: Stanford
- Kaleb Jackson – Baton Rouge (LA) Liberty: LSU
- Christopher Johnson – Fort Lauderdale (FL) Dillard: Miami
- Jaquez Keys – Ironton (OH) Ironton: Wake Forest
- Jayden Limar – Lake Stevens (WA) Lake Stevens: Oregon
- London Montgomery – Scranton (PA) Prep: Penn State
- Samuel Singleton, Jr. – Orange Park (FL) Fleming Island: Florida State
- Daylan Smothers – Charlotte (NC) West: Oklahoma
- Dijon Stanley – Granada Hills (CA) Granada Hills: Utah
- Darius Taylor – Walled Lake (MI) Western: Minnesota
- Treyaun Webb – Jacksonville (FL) Trinity: Florida
- Richard Young – Lehigh Acres (FL) Lehigh: Alabama
REASON FOR THE GRADE: Michigan needed at least one running back in the class of 2023 to bump up its scholarship backs from four to five. As we saw this past season, four scholarship running backs leaves Michigan precariously thin at the position. When Blake Corum hurt his knee and backup Donovan Edwards hurt his hand, Michigan was stuck with redshirt freshman Tavierre Dunlap, true freshman C.J. Stokes, position switchers, and walk-ons. That led to an array of plays in which more talented backs would have made Michigan’s season a little easier, such as walk-on Isaiah Gash’s dropped pass against Illinois and converted linebacker Kalel Mullings’s fumble against TCU. Michigan should have at least five scholarship backs on its roster at all times.
So Michigan needed at least one, and then a lot of people expected Blake Corum to leave for the NFL after a highly productive season, bumping up the need to two. Indeed, Michigan landed speedster Cole Cabana (4-star, #10 RB, #161 overall), who might be more of a scat back who can split out wide. And they also took a fairly early commitment from Benjamin Hall (3-star, #55 RB, #781 overall). Hall is the bigger question mark of the two, not only because of his lower ranking, but also because he didn’t start for most of his senior season. Hall is a bigger back (5’10”, 225 lbs.) and lacks great speed. One might expect to see him be a bruising downhill runner, but he bounces a lot of his runs outside and tries to reverse field, which he will not have the speed to do in college.
Michigan tried to get in late on in-state Minnesota commit Darius Taylor, but it was too late to get much movement there. So obviously the coaching staff wanted a third back – or perhaps to replace Hall in the class – but that didn’t happen. That not only solidifies my confidence that Michigan wanted at least two backs, but it makes me question how much confidence they have in the guys they brought in.
Right now the Wolverines are in a good position with Corum, Edwards, Dunlap, and Stokes all returning (for now), plus Cabana and Hall entering the program. Even if someone like Dunlap or Stokes transfers following the spring, Michigan would still have five scholarship guys on the roster.
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