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Drake Johnson “Ready To Go” Against Illinois

The fifth-year senior is “near 100%” and might play for the first time this season.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long string of bad luck for Drake Johnson - two ACL tears, the first coming in his first ever game as a collegiate football player, and the next when he was having a breakout game against Ohio State in 2014. That didn’t keep him from recovering in time for the 2015 season, where he played in 12 games and earned one start.

Then, he got run over by a forklift in May, but he wasn’t going to let that keep him off the field, either, so he went back to the recovery process with enough zeal to impress Jim Harbaugh. But the forklift incident wasn’t the only reason, apparently, why he’s missed six games.

“He had a setback in practice where he strained a muscle and that set him back, so he’s been rehabbing from that,” Harbaugh said this week. “He’s done a nice job getting himself back ready to play. He’s playing well, he’s running, he’s moving, I can recognize that’s Drake Johnson. He’s up to near 100 percent.”

Johnson has run for 641 yards and 8 touchdowns throughout his career, which started after a distinguished career at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School where he came within 95 yards of the state rushing record. Since arriving at U-M all the way back in 2012, no other tailback has reached 100 career carries while averaging 5.0 yards a carry.

Now, this week, the Wolverines will face a team that’s 86th in the country in run defense.

“Drake Johnson also has been champing at the bit to get going," Harbaugh said. "He'll add in. The thing I like the most is that there's multiple guys that can run, block, catch the ball out of the backfield at a very high level."