The Michigan Wolverines picked up a second in-state commitment in their 2023 class this past weekend when three-star running back Cole Cabana chose the Wolverines over Michigan State and a handful of other programs.
Cabana is one half of the puzzle at running back for Michigan in 2023. After wanting to take two in 2022 and not finding a guy to pair with CJ Stokes, they’re going to try again.
At 6-foot and 180 pounds, Cabana’s elite trait is his speed. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the recent Rising Stars camp and was timed at 10.69 seconds in the 100-meter dash as well. As a junior, Cabana rushed for 1,688 yards and 24 touchdowns as Dexter climbed out of its traditional basement position to finish .500.
This scouting report will be based off Dexter’s 42-6 win over Ann Arbor Skyline in the second game of his junior season. Cabana carried the ball 17 times for 158 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first half.
Cabana’s speed jumps off the screen. On this screen pass, Cabana gathers himself after catching the ball and is gone in a flash down the sideline. He covers 20 yards of ground in the blink of an eye before he gets pushed out of bounds.
Utilizing Cabana on screens and quick passes will definitely be a big part of his role in Michigan’s offense. Getting him on the edge and spreading defenses horizontally will be part of the strategy.
Cabana does show some wiggle to be able to run between the tackles, though. On this carry, Cabana creates a nice gain up the gut using his balance and nimbleness to bounce off a tackler and evade another one before going down.
However, Cabana may trust his speed a little too much and will make cuts early when he doesn’t have to instead of trusting his blockers. He can also start running east-west to try and avoid tacklers instead of going north-south and picking up yardage.
When you find yourself in this position, something’s gone wrong:
You can get away with bouncing around and trying to create big plays when you’re the fastest player on the field by a mile, but that won’t work in college. Cabana will have to learn how to press his track more to get defenders to commit instead of cutting early and giving away his intentions.
Cabana will also have to increase his strength to withstand the rigors of Big Ten football. In pass protection, Cabana would often give one shove but then give up ground. This further cements the idea he’ll mostly be used as a gadget player leaking out of the backfield instead of staying in to block.
Chris Evans would be a good comp for his game in recent Michigan football history. Hopefully this time around, whoever the offensive coordinator is will better utilize his talents.
Overall, I agree with the consensus ranking that he is a high three-star prospect, though I probably lean toward 247Sports’ 87 rating instead of Rivals’ declaration of a four-star. I don’t see Cabana being able to handle a full workload, and plays will have to be schemed up for him to pick up yards. But if he breaks one, it’s going to be a big play.