Imagine reading the following sentence last year:
When the 2019 season begins, Karan Higdon, Michigan’s lone 1,000-yard rusher since 2011, will be a Texan (geographically & professionally); Chris Evans will deliver food around Ann Arbor and not play football; Ben Mason will be a defensive tackle.
The first part would have been conceivable, but everything else sounds like a fever dream. Those three leave a void in the form of 338 carries, 1,681 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
How does Michigan overcome this? By committee and the best offensive line in more than a decade.
There may not be a 1,000-yard rusher in the group, but three running for 500+ is a possibility. Even new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is excited calling the running back group Michigan’s “deepest position” despite their extreme youth.
Here is my running back depth chart prediction to start 2019.
RB1 - Tru Wilson, Senior
As far as running back is concerned, Jim Harbaugh likes a sure thing.
The former walk-on is just that and due to his reliability, football IQ, and pass protection, Wilson is the presumptive starter for 2019.
Averaging 5.9 yards-per-carry last season (highest on the team), Wilson may not be the most talented back on the roster, but he will be the steady veteran leading this group.
RB2 - Christian Turner, R-Freshman
Turner saw action in three games last season, gained valuable experience, and preserved his redshirt above all else.
Before the Peach Bowl last season, Turner was one of the most impressive players and his electricity flashed briefly during the game against the Gators.
Although Turner had fewer rushing yards than backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey last year, I assure you, a breakout is coming.
RB3 - Zach Charbonnet, Freshman
The highly touted freshman is “coming along like a freight train,” according to Harbaugh.
Inject that comment and these highlights into my veins.
Charbonnet is seemingly Terrell Davis incarnate and could take over the entire backfield before 2019 is finished.
RB4 - Hassan Haskins, R-Freshman
The former running back turned linebacker is now BACK to running back, out of depth necessity more than anything. But at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Haskins adds an interesting combination of size and speed and could be in the mix for short yardage and third down situations.
RB5 (FB1) - Ben VanSumeren, R-Freshman
While Ben Mason could be splitting offensive and defensive duties, expect VanSumeren to be the new ‘Big Ben’ of the backfield.
At 6-foot-2, 244 pounds, VanSumeren is Michigan’s new battering ram and the starting fullback when one is required in Gattis’ offense.
Even in high school, VanSumeren was “not a boy, but a man.”
Nicholas Capatina, Jordan Castleberry, Danny Hughes, Leon Franklin, Abe Jaafar, Jared Char, Peter Bush, Matt Brown and Lucas Andrighetto will all battle for special team duties to secure a varsity letter in 2019.