During the 2015 season, Michigan was able to use both running backs and fullbacks in its offense. It wasn’t their best output ever, but it was a very solid and improved showing from previous seasons. Last year, De’Veon Smith took around 80% of the carries (180 attempts) and was able to gain 781 yards, while Drake Johnson and Ty Isaac had 282 and 206, respectively. With those 3, plus 5 other additions coming into the 2016 season, there will be speculation on who will win the starting position. Fullbacks are in a similar position with 7 coming in, including Henry Poggi and Khalid Hill. It’s going to be a crowded backfield, but the cream will rise to the top.
Smith may have had the yardage, but according to Harbaugh, no job is given. In spring ball, Ty Isaac ran really well and looked to be the top back during the game, providing a thick race heading into fall camp in August. Isaac also lost weight and looked faster and lighter than before. Drake Johnson proved to be a reliable back by making the TD catch from Shane Morris, but also has the agility and evasiveness to be a good 2nd choice. Unfortunately for backs like Kareem Walker and Kingston Davis, this season will not be their season to start, but they will contribute when the game is already decided or injuries occur. At this point in time, my favorite back is Isaac. If I had to choose who starts, it would probably be Smith as a 1A and Isaac a 2A with Johnson in 2nd and Walker 3rd.
This looks to be a 2-man show coming into fall camp with 2 seniors leading the way. Poggi and Hill seem to have this spot covered, but I feel that the next one up should be Wyatt Shallman. Yes, he’s a RB, but he’s buried in the depth chart. I feel that he is athletically and physically sound to be the next great FB at Michigan. Unfortunately, he only played once last season during their meeting with Rutgers. He only had 9 yards all season long, but if Harbaugh wanted to bulk up the FB position, adding Shallman would be a great addition to an area where experience and talent are lacking.
Overall, Michigan is loaded in the backfield regardless who starts. With a QB set, this team may have enough firepower on both the running game and the passing game to compliment this stellar defense and make a deep run for the B1G Championship.