Much like the quarterback position, the starting job is cemented with senior Mike Hart returning. Like last spring, he will likely get very few reps (if any at all) in an effort to insure his health for the fall. That said, the maize and blue offense will need should allow the Maize & Blue the opportunity to determine a definitive back up. Given the beating the position takes there’s an obvious need for a legit #2.
The spring will be absolutely huge for junior Kevin Grady. Though the former East Grand Rapids star hasn’t lived up to the incredible hype that was built around his arrival, there is still plenty of time for him to turn it around. Given the fact that he is more of a north / south runner, he isn’t fully compatible with the zone scheme. However, that doesn’t mean he cannot succeed in it. Rumors of a potential transfer circulated around town leading into the spring, but nothing more has happened on this front. If Grady is the number two back coming out of spring, I wouldn’t expect to hear more about him moving on.
A player who has the potential to come up and grab the backup position is Brandon Minor. Minor, who was an unexpected contributor as a freshman, showed plenty enough talent to secure the number two slot. Expect the competition between he and Grady to be sizzling hot, and it will likely carry over into training camp this summer.
Carlos Brown was/is slated for the defensive side of the ball this spring, but may find himself taking snaps at running back as well (especially if Hart is held out of action). That said, because depth shouldn’t be an issue in the fall (thanks to Hart’s presence and the addition of freshman Avery Horn), we still expect Brown to wind up on the defensive side of the ball.
Speaking of Avery Horn, don’t forget this youngster’s name. He will not be around for the spring, but he will be one to keep an eye on in the fall. He was by far the most underrated player of the 2007 class, in my opinion, and could see time as a change of pace type player down the line. I could also see him contributing on special teams.
The fullback position should be interesting to watch. The battle to replace departed Obi Oluigbo will likely come down sophomore Andre Criswell and freshman Vince Helmuth. Criswell has earned a reputation as a determined blocker and has two years in the program under his belt. Though he clearly has more knowledge of the position than Helmuth, he doesn’t have as much experience as a ball-carrier. The former Saline standout was an early enroller and could develop into a decent threat out of the backfield. Hoe he develops as a blocker will determine whether or no he can seriously contend for time at the position.
Previous Turel Position Previews:
Turel's U-M Spring Preview: Quarterbacks