Michigan has been lacking a lead running back since the days of Mike Hart bowling over hapless defenders in the mid-2000s. With new running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley four days into spring practice, the hope is to develop Michigan's established talent at running back and find a lead back despite not quite knowing what he has just yet.
Despite the plan being to find a lead back, Wheatley told reporters on Tuesday evening that it's far too early to tell who is sticking out right now.
"Right now, you would like to say you want one back, but you really can't tell right now," Wheatley said. "We don't know who is going to emerge and we don't know what is going to emerge after this thing. As a coach, you want great competition and you want everyone to rise to the top. You want the decision to be the hardest decision to ever make. That's what you want to shoot for."
In terms of what he's looking for to be able to come to a decision, Wheatley spoke about the characteristics in a running back that stick out to him the most.
"A smart guy that can not only handle the ball but can handle the game," Wheatley said. "Meaning that the game never gets too big and basically be a coach on the field. Who can make corrections, see the game and, as they say, make the game slow down for themselves. To understand the ebb and flow situations. Sometimes a three-yard run is probably one of the best runs you can have in a game and to not always look for the home run.
"Just a smart, well-rounded back that's going to understand who is, to play within his talent level and manage the game."
Even with all of the main characteristics laid out, Wheatley says that it is "very early" to try and figure all of it out only a handful of practices in to the new season.
Odds and ends
- Wheatley told reporters that junior running back Derrick Green is healthy and "had a nice practice" today.
- According to Wheatley, he had high praise for Drake Johnson who will miss spring practice recovering from an ACL tear: "Drake is like my coach, he's like my assistant. He comes in, he's basically the 'tattle-tale'. Pointing out who made a mistake, who did what wrong. It's also keeping his mind sharp. As we call it mental reps, he gets the mental reps and is basically my second set of eyes."