High School: Del Valle (TX)
Measurables: 6-foot, 196 pounds
Ranking: Three-star (.8859 composite), No. 405 overall, No. 19 RB
Other finalists: Oklahoma State, USC, Utah
Accolades: 2x 1st Team All-District
Much of Tavierre Dunlap’s recruitment to Michigan fans has been framed through the lens of Donovan Edwards. Even though Michigan was always looking to take two running backs in the class, most of the reaction to Dunlap’s commitment was: “How will this affect Michigan’s chances with Edwards?”
But that doesn’t give Dunlap enough credit as a great prospect in his own right. Sitting right on the three/four-star borderline, 247Sports has Dunlap as a top-250 prospect in their own rankings. His running style is complementary to Edwards and he put up big numbers in one of the toughest high school conferences in the country.
Michigan didn’t offer Dunlap until last May. He received a big bump in the rankings soon after, and offers from other schools like Notre Dame, Virginia and Mississippi State. Over the summer, Michigan became one of his leaders despite him never being able to visit campus.
As he approached his decision date in September, there were differing reports about who was the biggest threat to Michigan. USC and Utah were both thought to be in his top two. Notre Dame really wanted him after missing out on Will Shipley, but didn’t even make his top eight. Eventually, Dunlap announced it was between Michigan and Oklahoma State.
When there is discussion about a rotating top group of schools for a prospect and one school always remains the same, it’s a good sign for that school. That turned out to be true for Michigan as Jay Harbaugh continued his success in Texas and earned his commitment.
Dunlap had a tough senior season, as he was in and out of the lineup with injuries. Their offense’s other top threat, five-star wide receiver Caleb Burton, went out for the season early with an injury, allowing defenses to key on Dunlap. As a result, Dunlap only played five games, gaining 572 yards and scoring four touchdowns. He’ll enroll early at Michigan and try to crack the rotation as a freshman.
Sophomore: 186 carries, 1,449 yards, 7.8 YPC, 17 TDs
Junior: 128 carries, 1,341 yards, 10.5 YPC, 20 TDs, 20 receptions, 208 yards, 3 TDs
Senior: 84 carries, 572 yards, 6.8 YPC, 4 TDs
- Good vision to see the hole developing and hit it hard
- Combination of balance and elusiveness make him hard to tackle
- Doesn’t let the first tackler bring him down
- Lacks burst to get to top speed quickly
- Good not great long speed
Dunlap is a bit of an old-school runner. He is more on the power end of the running back spectrum with great strength to run through would-be tacklers. It often takes a gang of opponents to bring him down.
But he also brings a little bit of wiggle. He can be slippery, using his excellent balance to spin out of tacklers. His vision fits well in zone schemes where he can find the hole and hit it at full speed.
His top end speed is not the greatest. I can see him getting caught from behind in the Big Ten. He will be more useful in short yardage situations, but his punishing running style will wear down defenses throughout the game.
As a junior, he showed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but it doesn’t look like that’s a big part of his game.