Michigan running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley said that the starting running back job is De'Veon Smith's job to lose, just like last season.
However, the running back competition will be just that, a competition.
Smith will also get heavy competition from Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson, who also have goals and aspirations on becoming the starting running back. While Smith might already be penciled in for the job, Johnson believes he still has the ability to be that starting guy.
It's all going to come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes.
"Do I have the ability to start? I think ability-wise, physically, all of us have the ability to start," Johnson said. "It's not that, it's who makes the least amount of mental errors. The offense is complicated, it's not something easy. You've got to know your stuff and if you don't know it you're not going to play. Physically, (starting) is a possibility, I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm apt to be the starter because i have X, Y, Z credentials and I run so fast and I bend so much.
"Do I think that I could start a Big Ten game and do well? Yeah."
Johnson says there are common misconceptions about the running back position. It's not all about running away from the defense and try to score, there are so many moving parts.
These moving parts are crucial to becoming a successful running back at any football program and Johnson knows that. He also knows that any running back the Wolverines send out to the field this fall are all well-versed in their craft.
"We all could go out there and do well," Johnson said. "It's not the physical ability, it's the small things. Pressing the hole and making the cut at the last second versus doing it sooner so the linebackers come over the top. It's the little things at this point. It's not the physical ability, it's who can play the best. It's funny because everyone thinks playing running back is run the ball, dodge everybody, don't get tackled, you do well. You know what I mean? Like, easy, duh, everyone who is fast and quick can do it. But it's not that simple.
"There's so many intricate things that you learn when pressing the hole, breaking people off the top of routes, creating separation, following your reads the right way... It's really who can do the little techniques the best will start."