Michigan’s loaded running back room added another piece last weekend in three-star Tavierre Dunlap. The 6-foot, 200-pound Dunlap brings a different skill set to the offense, as you’ll see once we get to the tape.
Dunlap plays for Del Valle (TX), which plays in the 6A, the largest classification in Texas. As a junior he put up 1,341 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 128 carries. He also caught 20 passes for 208 yards and three more scores.
The last time Dunlap was able to get his athleticism tested officially, he was in the spring of his sophomore year. At an Opening Regional he posted a 4.63 40-yard dash, a 4.49 shuttle and a 33.5 inch vertical. He also runs track, putting up a personal best of 11.23 seconds in the 100-yard dash.
Those times are good, not great, and that matches what he shows on the field. Dunlap is more thunder than lightning, a one-cut runner that isn’t necessarily a home run threat but will consistently grind out positive yardage.
The full game I found from last season was a 77-34 victory over Austin in which Dunlap carried the ball nine times for 107 yards and scored twice.
Dunlap is an absolute chore to bring down, never letting the first guy tackle him. He possesses great balance, power and sneaky elusiveness that makes him tough to grab.
On this carry, Dunlap sidesteps one tackler, then stays upright as two guys launch themselves at him. He spins away from three more converging defenders, then keeps driving his feet as a guy gets him from behind. He pushes the pile a few more yards, finally falling forward.
Dunlap uses that spin move and a quick side cut to evade tacklers pretty often. His vision allows him to see holes and quickly get through the line, like on this next play. Here, soon after he gets the ball, he sees a defender penetrating, plants his foot and gets through to the next level before getting brought down.
He puts it all together on his longest run of the day, a 30-yard jaunt where he cuts and spins his way to the end zone. Dunlap has to make a cut in the backfield, but it puts him directly in the path of two defenders. He nimbly spins away from them, then bounces outside and beats the defensive back to the edge to score.
I would like to see Dunlap’s footwork be a little more consistent when he’s making these cuts. On one carry, he sees a big opening on the backside of a play, but shuffles his feet to get there instead of planting his foot and getting upfield.
If Dunlap is more decisive with his cut there, he can hit the hole with more speed and pick up a few more yards.
In general, what will hold Dunlap back from being a top back nationally is his lack of explosiveness. He doesn’t have great acceleration or long speed, so he ends up getting caught. It’s the reason why his longest run was that touchdown above, with no others more than a dozen or so yards.
But that also means he is consistently churning out yards without any negative plays, either. He’s a prospect with a high floor that does all the little things in the game well. Dunlap ran a handful of routes, getting wide open on a couple of wheel routes that his quarterback missed. He was also a willing blocker and always carried out his fakes.
Dunlap will probably put on 15 to 20 more pounds in college and will be similar to De’Veon Smith in his style of play. That will be a good complement to the other backs in the room when he gets there, which will be Blake Corum and hopefully Donovan Edwards. Expect to see him in short yardage and goal line situations early on.