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Jay Harbaugh: Ceiling unlimited for ‘totally obsessed’ Zach Charbonnet

Healthier and faster than before, Michigan is excited for his progress.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Charbonnet came into the Michigan Wolverines football program last fall as one of the most-anticipated freshman running backs in recent memory. There were certainly flashes of the player that many expected could be a star in Ann Arbor, but injuries and the growing pains of a new offense limited his impact at times.

Michigan expect that to be a lot different heading into his true sophomore season.

Running backs/special teams coach Jay Harbaugh spoke to the Michigan media on Wednesday afternoon and was not going to feed the hype, but simply stated there has been a jump between seasons one and two.

“I don’t know how to compare him to last year except saying that he’s, without a doubt, better,” Harbaugh said. “He’s running better, he’s stronger, he’s seeing things better, his feet are better. Collectively just a better player, which is obviously a product of being able to practice and have more reps. But also he’s just feeling good. He just feels healthier. He feels right. Credit to him... he wasn’t full speed for a good amount of last year. He wasn’t injured but he didn’t feel the way that he knew was possible.

“(I’m) just excited to be able to see him run the way he wants to run and hold himself to the standard I know he’ll hold himself to. I know in practice, he’s really taken advantage of it, he looks great and we’re really excited to watch him do his thing against Minnesota.”

Often times, phrases like “the sky is the limit” and “high ceiling” get thrown around for talented players with another gear to unlock. However, to put that type of distinction on a player suggests you know where his career is headed.

Harbaugh won’t do that because he believes Charbonnet can be as good a player as he decides he wants to be

“For Zach, for such a high number of our guys, you really can’t put a ceiling on him,” Harbaugh said. “On a guy who’s totally obsessed, there is no ceiling. You can’t put it there because all they do is just work and find a way to get a little bit better. You might think, ‘Okay, they’re going to top out.’ But they don’t think like that, they don’t have limits on themselves mentally. These guys don’t get tackled and say, ‘OK, shoot – that was a good play by him.’ There’s always something to it of, ‘I could have done this. I should have done that.’ You know what I mean? Mindset-wise, I can’t put a limit on a guy because they don’t put it on themselves.”

Charbonnet had 726 yards on 149 rushes and 11 touchdowns in his freshman season in Ann Arbor. He was a four-star prospect and the No. 46 player in the nation coming out of high school in Westlake Village, California, per the 247Sports Composite.