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Talking Recruiting: Michigan, Running Backs, And The Future

Things are just beginning on the recruiting trail.

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

When Kiante Enis committed to Michigan, he knew there would be competition. Two four-star recruits, Matt Falcon and Kingston Davis, were already in the fold. But that wasn't a concern for Kiante, who was more focused on finding a place that felt like home, with a staff that he liked.

It was "kind of weird," Enis said, that he realized he was ready to commit during a satellite camp held by Michigan's staff in Indianapolis in early June - but NCAA rules prohibited him from discussing anything recruiting-related with the coaches. So he finished up working with Tyrone Wheatley and let the staff know afterward.

As for what position he'll play once he gets to Ann Arbor, that part is still up in the air. He has the physical tools to be a safety, has been recruited for running back, but could move to slot receiver if Michigan were to land another elite back in the '16 class.

"Id like to play offense if it's up to me," Enis said to MLive in June. "[And] I'd feel comfortable if they asked me to play receiver."

That positional flexibility has been a hallmark of Harbaugh, and so has a dedication to building a stable of runners that can attack a defense with speed, size, and everything in between. In the 2016 class alone, Harbaugh has snagged four guys who could end up at running back - ranging from 6'0", 242, all the way down to 5'11", 181, a difference of more than 60 pounds.

Prattville talent Kingston Davis (the aforementioned bruiser, at 6'0", 242) can dance around defenders while also laying out big hits on opposing teams. Matt Falcon, at 6'1", 210, is a shiftier runner, but possesses the same hard-hitting style when he gets boxed in. Enis and fellow '16 commit Chris Evans are both smaller and faster players, capable of out-running an entire defense into the end zone.

And with such a variety of skill sets in the backfield, basic running plays become even more deadly. Plays that are completely identical, with different runners, can challenge defenses in different ways. Plus, linemen get to hone their technique to perfection, even while the running plays behind them take an almost infinite number of forms. As Jim Harbaugh said, "I'd like [the run game] to be dominant." He should have said, "We're going to go out and wreck havoc."

Harbaugh's stewardship bodes well for a still-wide-open 2017 class. In a class that could easily stretch to 28 players, Harbaugh could add as many as five more hybrid athletes/running backs. Michigan has been building relationships with plenty of recruits, like Anthony McFarland, Jr. out of Maryland - a 5'9" back with terrific speed and quickness. Nathan Tilford, out of Upland, California, is warm on both the Trojans and Wolverines, and also has great speed. Allen Stritzinger, a 6'0", 180-pound running back and cornerback out of De La Salle High School in Michigan, is considered a heavy Michigan lean and could wind up on either side of the ball. With the way Harbaugh cross-trains players, he'll be able to stuff his roster with talented runners while keeping everyone happy and contributing.

Plus, as it stands right now, there is what you might call open availability. Nobody has really taken the baton from Mike Hart, and the one who does will be remembered for a long, long time. If some of these guys commit to Michigan, they'll have a chance to leave a lasting heritage behind. It's just a question of who ends up doing it.

Every week, I'll be doing a "Talking Recruiting" feature here on MnB. Let me know how I'm doing, and what topics you'd like me to explore next. And as always, thanks very much for reading.