It's been long assumed that Mike Weber and Damien Harris were the focal point of Michigan's intentions for 2015.
To an extent, that's been true--Michigan is locked on cruise-missile accuracy to Weber, a 4-star out of Detroit Cass Tech, and to Harris, a 5-star--and the No. 1-ranked RB--out of Berea Madison Southern (Ky.).
As the homegrown, backyard star variety, Weber would serve as the latest flow from the MoTown pipeline. Cass Tech has been good to the Wolverines; and at 5'10" and 205 pounds, Weber would probably be pretty good to Brady Hoke. Harris committed and then changed his mind. However, Doug Nussmeier, the new offensive coordinator, has kept the Bluegrass State thoroughbred at arm's length.
They're good. Really good. And they're both options.
But they're not the only backs available.
Ranked No. 2 in the nation, Jacques Patrick has reappeared in front of Michigan, which has a realistic chance of spotting the 6'1," 220-pound Orlando Timber Creek battery ram in the near future.
Patrick previously unofficially visited Ann Arbor on June 13, 2013, according to his timeline on 247Sports.
Back in March, Mike Farrell of Rivals.com watched Patrick's workouts (The Wolverine.com, subscription required) during a Rivals camp in Orlando. Impressed by what he saw, Farrell took to video to describe the heavily-offered running back's performance. Basically, Patrick disproved a commonly held belief: Larger guys aren't cut out for the backfield, or so they say. Farrell cited Patrick's great ability to read the field, adjust on the run, catch passes, do all of the things smaller, quicker runners do... and block.
Did you hear that?! Block. That's something Michigan running backs have seemingly forgotten how to do over the past few years. That trait has an obvious upside. While at Alabama, Nussmeier worked with an array of talents in the backfield, including wide-bodies such as Jalston Fowler (6'1," 250) and Derrick Henry (6'3," 238), per RollTide.com.
Green and Smith are roughly 6'0" and 230 pounds. See where this could lead? The recipe calls for a bruiser, and Patrick offers just as much, if not more, than Weber and Harris.
Rivals.com changes rankings five times a year, and Patrick was elevated to 5-star status, per Irish Illustrated.
Top Irish target Jacques Patrick jumped to 5-star status today. Bruising Fla. back hopes to visit South Bend in June. pic.twitter.com/xRvzsSLIxj— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) May 19, 2014
According to 247Sports, Fred Jackson (RB) and Jeff Hecklinski (WR) are the designated duo for Patrick. Jackson has a solid reputation and has done a respectable job of filling Michigan's cabinets with horsepower.
What He Does Well
He runs a 4.51-second 40, so that helps. Plus, with his somewhat towering frame, Patrick has the right build to evolve into one of those quintessential, long-stride galloping runners--sort of like a Fowler-type. PrepForce put together a nice highlight mixtape for the Central Floridian, who, in addition to running over, around and through opponents, even managed to sneak in a touchdown pass for good measure.
It's important to note the level of competition. That's not a knock on the guys Patrick has played--but it's not incredibly difficult for supremely gifted football players to exploit teams with "average" sized D-Liners (Note: As a whole, Floridian prep football is great. But some of Patrick's better runs and breaks come against smaller opposition) . The obvious question is one of progression: Will he be able to make fools of collegiate defenses?
Areas of Improvement
Really, conditioning and consistency are the only improvements that could be made. Other than shaving a tenth off his 40 or putting up more reps, there isn't much else for Patrick to prove (or do).
OK, so there is one thing: He gets a bit loose while carrying the ball. Turnovers happen that way. In all likelihood, Patrick's much stronger than most of the competition that he faces. His grip is probably enough, but that won't be the case in the Big Ten.
Or wherever he goes.
As of late May, 247Sports has Florida State as the leader.
Follow Maize 'n Brew's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81