Turel's U-M Spring Preview: Running Backs

GoBlueWolverine's Josh Turel is going through the Michigan football team, position by position: here are his 2005 Review and 2006 Pre-Spring-Practice Preview. Next Up: Running Backs

Running Back:

#20 Mike Hart
#3 Kevin Grady
#24 Jerome Jackson
#32 Mister Simpson
Spring-Carlos Brown
Fall- Brandon Minor


35 Brian Thompson 5th/Sr.
40 Obianna Oluigbo 5th/Sr.
92 Andre Criswell So./Fr.

2005 review:

Starting tailback Mike Hart had an injury-filled campaign missing four games and parts of three others. Hart hit for over 100 yards three times, including a very gutsy performance against Penn State and his season was highlighted by a 218 yard day against Michigan State, even with chances of him playing earlier in the week less than 50/50. Obviously he's one of the conference's better backs when he is healthy but his durability could be an issue of the future. Backup Kevin Grady had some growing pains but showed much promise. Departed Max Martin saw his carries cut after beating up on and Eastern Michigan and Wisconsin. Jerome Jackson answered the call of duty, helping close out the game against Iowa, and was serviceable against Northwestern. The backfield certainly missed Kevin Dudley as a rotation of fullbacks were an average group most of the time. It's hard to gauge this group due to very inconsistent offensive line play. Hart obviously was injured more often than not, Grady was a true freshman learning the ropes, Martin and Jackson weren't bad either.
Grade: B-

2006 Spring Preview
The backfield returns pretty much intact, the only loss being Max Martin transferring to Alabama. Getting Mike Hart reps in spring practice isn't a huge need so expect Kevin Grady to get a good amount of work in. Senior Jerome Jackson probably won't see too much fall out from the rap song incident, at worst he could be held out of spring practice but he should be the number three man in the rotation. Redshirt freshman Mister Simpson is buried in the depth chart and will either need to unseat Jackson or find playing time at another position. Carlos Brown will be in for spring practice and it should benefit him greatly. Brown was used primarily at quarterback in high school and the reps of spring practice will give him some experience not only at his new position, but within Mike DeBord's offense. Brandon Minor arrives in the fall and could challenge for time as well. Overall, a pretty talented group that has depth and some youngsters like Brown and Minor who could develop into fine backs. This group as a whole will see the ball thrown to them more often this year.

Within the new offense, the fullback will have to be more versatile. Will Paul could fit this mold, coming out of high school as a tight end but he has yet to put it all together. Paul will also probably get some looks at tight end in the spring as well. Senior Brian Thompson is more of a receiving back while Obi Oluigbo is more of an iso blocking fullback. Both will have to improve their weaknesses to fit in the offense better. The ace in the hole could be Andre Criswell. Observers have been very impressed with Criswell and he could end up with the fullback job when it's all said and done.

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