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Hassan Haskins went from positional depth to significant contributor and is looking for more

The converted linebacker was one of the biggest surprises of 2019.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Ohio State at Michigan Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it might do so with empty stadiums or a limited schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.

Hassan Haskins, redshirt SO

247 Composite Ranking: 3 stars (RB 49, Overall 975)
2019 Stats: 121 rush, 622 yards, 4 TD; 6 rec, 40 yards

When Hassan Haskins came to Ann Arbor, he entered into a crowded running back room headlined by Karan Higdon and Chris Evans. Perhaps seeing an easier path to playing time elsewhere, he quickly transitioned to the linebacking group, although he only saw time on special teams (and was able to keep his redshirt). With both Hidgon and Evans not on the roster heading into 2019, he flipped back to his original position, but was still pretty low on the depth chart.

Basically no one expected anything from Haskins last season. He started the year with five uneventful games before blowing up against Illinois. The converted linebacker took his first carry 29 yards to the house to open the scoring and ended the day with 125 total yards. He would see double-digit carries in six of the seven remaining contests and was often the first running back into the game. There are plenty of touches to go around in a backfield, and Haskins should get a shot at an encore in 2020.

Where exactly will Haskins fall in the running back hierarchy?

Make no mistake about it: Zach Charbonnet was the coaching staff’s favorite to start the year, which made sense given his superb recruiting credentials. However, that did not seem to matter down the stretch, when Haskins was more or less the Wolverines’ lead back near the end of the season. With an offseason for everyone to get healthy and reset, though, there is no guarantee that things stay the same this fall.

Haskins will continue to be in the conversation based on his tape. In some ways he is a little more well-rounded than Charbonnet, showing good burst and quickness with a higher potential for a home run. He is powerful, too, and while he was not a huge factor in the passing game, he looks like he could do some damage in that area. His ball security was great as well, and that might have even kickstarted his rise — against the Illini he was the only rusher to not cough up the ball.

It is not that valuable to debate Charbonnet versus Haskins too deeply because a) both are great talents who are great fits for the position and b) there is always going to be multiple running backs used throughout the season (and each game). Having both of these players in the fold gives the Wolverines two starter-level options who each performed down the stretch and should only improve after a year of seasoning and familiarity with Josh Gattis.

There is a little risk that Haskins comes back down to earth; he looked very impressive, but it was just for half a season and he did not necessarily come into college with the same level of potential as some of his peers. I would not be surprised to see Charbonnet return to the lead role, with Haskins still getting plenty of playing time early and often. If he picks up where he ended 2019, though, the coaches will have no choice but to keep using him as a big part of the offense.