I may be in the minority on this one, but I'm a huge fan of Brandon Minor. 6’1", 210, with breakaway speed. The ability to mash a linebacker in pass protection as well as the quickness to dodge him in the flats. Minor is something special. In Michigan’s new offense, he stands to be the primary mail carrier and could walk away from this year with everyone clawing over one another to pick up those new adidas jerseys with his number on them.
As a somewhat unheralded 3/4 star recruit two years ago, Minor was Hart’s primary backup in 2007, notching 90 carries and 385 total yards. Now a junior, the weight of the world has been placed on his and Carlos Brown’s shoulders as then men who must replace Michigan’s all time leading rusher, Mike Hart. Minor appears more than up to the challenge.
Blessed with unnaturally quick feet for a man his size, Minor has the ability to make cuts similar to the ones Hart made a season prior. While no one is as nimble as Michigan’s former 5’9" titan, Minor is easily the most agile of Michigan’s veteran tailbacks. He runs on his toes, taking short, quick steps behind the lines before breaking into sprinter’s strides after the line of scrimmage. Minor’s height also provides him an advantage Hart did not have; the ability to survey the field from above the traffic. This added bonus helps to give Minor what I perceive to be the best field of vision among Michigan’s running backs. He simply seems to see the field better than the remainder of Michigan’s stable of running backs.
However, this isn’t to suggest Minor doesn’t have things to work on. Minor was dropped in the backfield far too many times, ending up with a minus 44 yards, only 12 fewer lost yards than Hart on one third the carries. From time to time his vision seems to be a hindrance. You can see him constantly searching for the path of least resistance rather than plowing straight ahead or behind his blockers. He also has a tendency to be hesitant hitting the gaps, seemingly knowing that his upright running style exposes him to the big hit.
But these are all traits of a tall, inexperienced running back. The big guys tend to run upright until coaching or getting popped, forces them to change. Given the difficulty running behind anyone other than Jake Long, it’s hard to blame the kid for being a little hesitant last year when approaching a spot guarded by Mitchell or Boren.
The spring and fall practices have seen a steady stream of praise thrown Minor’s way. Nothing that makes you stand up out of your chair, but things that reassure you the Minor is in fact the real deal. His unique blend of size, speed, and shiftiness make him one of Michigan’s most formidable offensive threats. Look for him to break the 1,000 yard mark this year and notch at least 6 TDs. Look for the tall shifty running back to become Michigan’s workhorse in 2008.