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2020 Recruiting Position Previews: Running Backs

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Michigan and Ohio State will be battling on the trail for several backs this cycle.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If you missed yesterday’s 2020 recruiting position preview, check it out to get a better understanding of how these previews work. If you did see that article, however, then let’s continue, shall we?

Today’s edition features a position that will be a major priority for the class: Running back.

Commits

None so far.

Top Target

Dublin Coffman (OH) 4-star Michael Drennen II

Michigan has a wide open running back board, but fortunately plenty of the top targets are nearby. One of several Ohio recruits on this list is Drennen II, who is coveted heavily by several Big Ten schools.

Drennen II is an all-purpose style back in the mold of Chris Evans. He’d continue the trend of picking up fast, electric athletes to help reshape the offense. Michigan is clearly making him a priority and is being tag teamed by two excellent recruiters on the staff, fellow Ohioan Al Washington and running backs coach Jay Harbaugh.

The biggest competition for the 4-star will be (who else?) Ohio State. The crystal ball is 75-25 in favor of the Buckeyes over the Wolverines. The Buckeyes already have a commit from a similarly ranked running back, but they may be used in different roles. Georgia and Penn State are the other major threats.

In the Mix

Folsom (CA) 4-star Daniyel Ngata

Possibly one of the races where Michigan’s chances are underrated the most is with California 4-star Daniyel Ngata. He’s another running back/slot hybrid. Ngata is friends with two of Michigan’s best peer recruiters, Cade McNamara and Giles Jackson. Those relationships have helped out immensely.

Ngata has older brothers who play at Washington and Clemson, so look out for those two schools, although Clemson hasn’t offered yet.

Trinity Catholic (MO) 4-star Mookie Cooper

Cooper has always included Michigan in one of his top schools. He was offered when he visited for a game last season. At the time, Michigan was in good position for two of his St. Louis Trinity Catholic teammates, Isaiah Williams and Marcus Washington, though the staff cooled on both.

Washington landed at Texas, who are the favorites for Cooper at this point. All five of his crystal ball picks are for the Longhorns. But Cooper’s mom is apparently a big fan of Jim Harbaugh, and Michigan has always been in his top group.

Pinellas Park (FL) 4-star Lawrence Toafili

A new name to the running back board, the Michigan staff has been hot on Toafili’s tail as of late. Toafili has reciprocated his interest, so the Wolverines could jump into the thick of this race. Ohio State and Florida State were the two schools Toafili said was recruiting him the hardest.

Eastside Catholic (WA) 4-star Sam Adams

Adams blew up in October, picking up 13 offers from schools all over the country, including Michigan. The Washington state native is a taller back at 6-foot-2 who also plays safety.

His father played for Texas A&M, so they will be in the running. Ohio State, Arizona State, Washington and Nebraska are also in the mix here.

Archbishop Hoban (OH) 4-star Deamonte Trayanaum

Another talented back from Ohio is 4-star Deamonte Trayanum. The high school teammate of Nolan Rumler, Trayanum could play on both sides of the ball in college, but has lately been leaning towards running back.

Ohio State has four crystal ball picks compared to Michigan’s one. However, Michigan’s is the most recent. The Buckeyes also aren’t taking three running backs in one class, so if they split Drennen and Trayanum, everyone could be happy.

Christ the King (NY) 4-star Tirek Murphy

Murphy left his visit in July to Ann Arbor raving about the Wolverines. This led 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong to crystal ball the 4-star to Michigan. Notre Dame is a school to watch out for here. He may not be a take as of now, but if everything is in order he’d probably be eager to join.

Fairfield (OH) 3-star Jutahn McClain

Wrapping up this group is Ohio 3-star Jutahn McClain, who exploded onto the scene with a 2,300 all-purpose yard and 31 touchdown junior season. McClain is the teammate of signee Erick All, and visited Michigan with him a couple times this season. His stock could keep rising if he repeats his performance as a senior.

Longshots

Salpointe Catholic (AZ) 4-star Bijan Robinson

Robinson is a benefactor of Michigan’s new recruiting presence in Arizona. Along with his teammate, 4-star safety Lathan Ransom, Robinson visited Ann Arbor for a game this season. The No. 6 running back in the country will be a tough pull across the country, but UCLA seems to be the only real contender, which just had a disastrous season. Quarterback commit JD Johnson could also help here.

Don Bosco (NJ) 4-star Jalen Berger

Berger will be a test to see how strong Michigan’s connections with the New Jersey powerhouse schools still are, now that it’s been a few years since the coup they pulled on the state in 2016. Continuing the theme in this post, Ohio State is the favorite with the only two crystal ball picks. Penn State is also lurking.

Poteet (TX) 4-star Seth McGowan

Michigan offered McGowan in late October, piling on with most of the other major schools in the country. The Texas back is pretty wide open, but Notre Dame may have an edge early on. It’s tough to gleam anything about Michigan’s chances right now.

Under the Radar

McEachern (GA) 3-star Jordon Simmons

Despite his low ranking, Georgia 3-star Jordon Simmons has an impressive offer sheet. Along with Florida, Florida State and Georgia, Michigan has offered Simmons, but was one of the first to do so, way back in June 2017.

Dr. Phillips (FL) 3-star Brandon Fields

Fields has an interesting recruiting story, but one Michigan is not unfamiliar with. He’s currently committed to play baseball for South Carolina, but will have to decide if he wants to play football at the next level as well. If he does, Michigan can point to Joey Velazquez as someone who has worked out a similar deal. Fields was on campus for a game this season, so the interest is there, but the Gamecocks are obviously at the forefront.

Winton Woods (OH) 3-star Miyan Williams

In fitting fashion, the last running back on the board here is an Ohioan. 3-star Miyan Williams was offered by the staff in mid-December and immediately became his best offer. Kentucky, Maryland, Rutgers, and Toledo are the other schools to extend him a scholarship so far.


Michigan has its hands in a lot of different races across the country. At a position where the staff will likely take a couple prospects, the Wolverines have guys with different styles who could complement each other well.

Overall, the theme of this position is Ohio State won’t be taking five running backs. Despite so many of these recruits having the Buckeyes as their leader or near the top, they won’t all end up in Columbus, allowing Michigan to scoop up some talented athletes on offense.

Next up in the position breakdowns will be the wide receivers.