Running Backs a Strength For The Wolverines

Even with a talented quarterback and explosive wide receivers, the Michigan offense will still start and end with the running game this fall. As it seems like they always do, the Wolverines have a talented feature back in Mike Hart, but there are also a couple of young backups ready to play a heavy role.

When Carlos Brown broke his hand in practice last week, it was yet another set back in his goal to finally see extended time at tailback. An outstanding athlete, Brown has been tried at quarterback and defensive back in addition to running back. This year, with Kevin Grady likely done for the year with a knee injury, Brown is concentrating on running back fulltime, providing key depth behind Mike Hart and Brandon Minor.

“[The early practices] will be very important for Carlos,” running backs coach Fred Jackson said at media day. “There is a lot that goes into being a running back, pass protection, catching the ball, all of that and more are things he’ll have to continue to pick up.”

With Brown back in the fold at running back, the Wolverines now have a stable of runners, each with their own talents. Minor showed a blend of power, speed and cutback ability as a freshman. Brown is the speediest of the trio. Then of course, there is the incomparable Hart, who rushed for 1455 yards last season.

”You’re going to see a bigger, faster, stronger Mike Hart,” Jackson said. “And the thing about Mike is, I’ve never coached a more confident player. He really believes he can do anything on the field and no one can stop him.”

Hart is setting his goals high as a senior. He has yet to win a bowl game or beat rival Ohio State. With all the minor nicks that have been pestered him throughout his career, the senior leader is primed for a big season.

“"I'm excited,” Hart said. “It's my last year. I haven't played football since January so I'm excited to get out there and get back after it. I'm feeling healthy and ready to go."

As is the rest of the backfield; Brown and Minor are both slated to contribute in the return game as well and Jackson says there is a possibility that Grady could come back towards the end of the year depending on what he and his family decide. But as it stands, he is certainly pleased with the group he is about to put out on the field.

“We have good depth,” he said. “With the three backs that we have, I feel really good about where we are.”

***(editor's note) By the way, don't count out the speedy Avery Horn, who we're hearing has been impressive in practice thus far.

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