The Fence the Mitten Project: Running Backs

The Fence the Mitten Project: Running Backs

April 14, 2020
Elijah Collins (image via

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Yesterday I took a look at the quarterbacks ranked in the top 25 in-state prospects for years 2015-2019 (LINK). Today I’ll take a look at running backs.

Hit the jump.


  1. #Mike Weber (RS Sr.): 4-star, #7 RB, #75 overall
  2. #John Kelly (RS Sr.): 4-star, #40 ATH, #545 overall
  3. Joshuwa Holloman (RS Sr.): 3-star, #66 ATH, #890 overall
  4. **#Matt Falcon (RS Jr.): 3-star, #22 RB, #440 overall
  5. Martell Pettaway (RS Jr.): 3-star, #26 RB, #474 overall
  6. #*Ben VanSumeren (RS Fr.): 3-star, #50 ATH, #624 overall
  7. La’Darius Jefferson (RS Fr.): 3-star, #53 ATH, #638 overall
  8. Elijah Collins (RS Fr.): 3-star, #38 RB, #740 overall
  9. Jaren Mangham (Fr.): 3-star, #26 ATH, #435 overall

#Offered by Michigan
*Signed with Michigan initially
**Retired due to knee injuries


Martell Pettaway (West Virginia) rushed 27 times for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns while playing in four games. Ben VanSumeren (Michigan) ran 9 times for 20 yards and 1 touchdown; he has since switched to tight end and then linebacker, but he was a running back for the 2019 season. La’Darius Jefferson (Michigan State) ran the ball 19 times for 25 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he caught 3 passes for 34 yards; he has since transferred to Western Michigan. Elijah Collins (Michigan State) had 222 carries for 988 yards (4.5 yards/carry) and 5 touchdowns as MSU’s starter, while also making 15 catches for 99 yards. Jaren Mangham (Colorado) was the #2 guy in Boulder, rushing 107 times for 441 yards (4.1 yards/carry) and 3 touchdowns; he also caught 10 passes for 41 yards.


This situation isn’t as dire as the quarterback situation. Michigan would have second-year player Elijah Collins leading the way, backed up by true freshman Jaren Mangham. Martell Pettaway might provide a little bit of juice if healthy, since he ran for 6.4 yards/carry and 6 scores in 2018. Ben VanSumeren provides some goal-line work, and La’Darius Jefferson contributes a few carries here or there. Overall, this is an uninspiring group, but not far off from where Michigan has been in other years recently, with undraftable players like Karan Higdon and De’Veon Smith leading the charge out of the backfield.


Michigan had a couple good players in this five-year span, but they were both in the same year (Ohio State’s Mike Weber and Tennessee’s John Kelly) five years ago. Weber was committed to Michigan at one point, and while Kelly got an offer, the Wolverines weren’t that gung-ho about him. Both were gone by 2019 to play for the Cowboys and Rams, respectively. Matt Falcon, another player once committed to Michigan, is the third best back in the group but had a spate of knee injuries. Is an Elijah Collins/Jaren Mangham duo enough to beat Ohio State and contend for a playoff spot? Probably not, but that might depend on the offensive line . . .

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