A couple weeks ago, the Michigan Wolverines landed their second running back in the 2023 class. Michigan was looking to take multiple backs in the class after only getting one in 2022, and made sure to land guys with differing skill sets.
In-state four-star Cole Cabana was the first to commit in early February and has only seen his stock rise since. Just recently, industry updates pushed Cabana solidly into the top 200 players in the country and the No. 9 running back, according to the 247Sports composite.
Michigan fans are likely hoping the same will happen to the most recent addition, Georgia three-star Benjamin Hall. Unranked on the composite when he committed, Hall is now just within the top 600 nationally.
Like their rankings, the two backs’ measurables are also quite different. Cabana is 6-foot, 180 pounds and known for his speed. He’s clocked in at 10.69 seconds for the 100-meter dash, and that shows up on tape.
Meanwhile, Hall stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 225 pounds. He’s going to play the role of the inside runner who can move the chains in short yardage situations, which is a role Michigan is looking to fill on the roster.
Watching Hall’s junior year highlights, they show he runs mostly within the tackles. He has some quick feet, though, and makes decisive cuts that allow him to make people miss in tight spaces. This is in contrast to the last bigger running back Michigan recruited, Tavierre Dunlap, who was more of a one cut and go type of runner.
Hall also shows pretty good balance and the ability to absorb contact. However, he does lack top-end speed that would allow him to break away from defenders. On some long runs on his tape, he gets caught from behind.
Cabana, on the other hand, is always pulling away from the defense when he gets into space. His speed allows him to get to the edge of the defense and turn the corner without getting caught. Cabana also makes decisive cuts but can find himself going too laterally at some points instead of gaining ground.
In the pass game, Cabana is also used frequently and can even line up in the slot. This is a role Michigan pitched to him and plans to utilize more following the receiving skills of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards.
But what is surprising is Hall also gets work in the pass game. He caught 12 passes for 110 yards as a junior, running short routes downfield and catching traditional screen passes. The versatility of both running backs will open up the possibilities for Michigan’s offense and can expand Hall’s role as a third down back.
The prototypical “thunder and lightning” duo, Cabana and Hall complement each other well and will have an opportunity to get some carries when they get to campus, unless Corum returns for his senior year. If not, Dunlap and Donovan Edwards will both be juniors and three-star CJ Stokes will have a year on campus, but probably not much in-game experience given the depth chart ahead of him.
The question remains whether Michigan can land a third running back in the class. It’s been two cycles since it landed a national recruit at the position and it’s going to be a tough sell. We’ll see if this duo is enough to keep Michigan’s running back room stocked for the next few years.