The Michigan Running Backs

Former U-M staffer Mark Ouimet has seen the U-M <b>running backs</b> for several years now. Here is anaylsis of how the running back situation stacks up, and how the different strengths of the different backs can be a plus for the 2004 Wolverines.

Ouimet: "With the running backs it's pretty simple.

"Tim Bracken and Pierre Rembert have fallen back a little ... David Underwood and Jerome Jackson are the first two guys.

"Underwood is a 4th year senior, so this should be his year. With David the key will be for him not to get overanxious, not to fumble.

"The very first game against Miami will be key. If he fumbles or has a couple miscues and goes in the wrong direction ... he will be right on the sideline. But if all goes well in the first gane, then game after game his confidence will grow.

"If David puts it together mentally ... with that offensive line who knows how many yards he could gain. Notice I put David on the tail end of my Heisman watch list. He does have the raw ability to make a lot of money playing football in the future -- he's got good size (6-0, 220) and that great speed (note: Underwood was just as heavy his senior year in high school as he is now, and GBW was there when he ran several sub-4.4 40's in a row at a certain deep south college camp the summer before his senior year).

"Jerome, a sophomore, is a good change-up to David -- he gives U-M flexibility because David and Jerome different kind of runners. David has more pure speed, but he's actually more of a pounder. Jackson (5-11, 200) is a little more shifty ... he reads and feels his way through the holes. Whereas David sees the hole and hits no matter who is there in the way. And Jerome is a little better out of the backfield as far as catching the ball. People may not remember but Jerome, in his junior year in high school, ran for almost 2,000 yards to saginaw High and was considered one of the top five or ten junior running backs in the country. So by playing both Underwood and Jackson Michigan will force opponents to prepare for two different kinds of backs.

"As far as who will be the #1 guy, who will get the most snaps ... in the first game we'll see which kid has developed more. I'd say whoever is hot after first game will be the guy.

"Then the question is -- how deep they go in first game as far as playing either Tim Bracken (5-9, 206) or one of the freshmen. If they play Max Martin or Mike Hart, the freshmen, it will be in the first game. My guess is, of the two Hart is the more likely to redshirt, because of his size (5-9, 185). So if there is a freshman candidate to play it'd most likely be Max. Max is big and strong enough (6-2, 210) to play. But, he has not really played that much -- he was injured for large parts of both his junior and senior years in high school. So they may redshirt both the freshmen and play the guys they have."

The Michigan Insider Top Stories