Freshmen RBs and reasonable expectations

Freshmen RBs and reasonable expectations

Submitted by Ron Utah on August 21st, 2013 at 2:59 PM

How long should we wait for this guy?

There is constant chatter on this board and in the media about how freshmen RBs should be able to contribute right away.  The basic tenet of this belief is that if a RB is athletic and is any good, he'll be able to produce right away.  Sure, he might not have the nuances of pass protection and route running down, but he should at least be able to pick-up some yards on running downs as a true freshman.  Guys like T.J. Yeldon make this easy to believe.

So, I decided to find out how true this is.  If you suck as a freshman RB, are you likely to be any good at any point in your career?  If Derrick Green doesn't contribute significantly this season, should we crying?  Going even further, is Rawls a lost cause at this point?  Hayes?

Having a little less time than I'd like to do a thorough examination of the data, I used a somewhat limited sample: the top 40 RBs in terms of yards/game from 2012.  I broke seasons into three categories: Primary starter (PS), significant back-up (SB), and insignificant season (IS).

These categories are actually surprisingly simple to define: Primary starters are obvious, and guys that are significant contributors at the position are equally easy to separate from the dudes that get trash-time and spot carries.  Insignificant seasons also include redshirts, but not medical redshirts.  I also took out JUCOs.

Here are the top 40 RBs from 2012 (NOT in order of production):

PS SB IS Player School Class
1 1 0 Ka'Deem Carey Arizona SO
2 1 0 Le'Veon Bell Mich St JR
2 2 0 Montee Ball Wisconsin SR
4 0 0 Johnathan Franklin UCLA SR
3 0 0 James Sims Kansas JR
2 1 0 Joseph Randle Okla St JR
2 0 0 Jahwan Edwards Ball State SO
4 0 0 Montel Harris Temple SR
1 0 0 Kenneth Dixon La Tech FR
1 0 0 Todd Gurley Georgia FR
3 1 0 Zach Line SMU SR
3 0 0 Tim Cornett UNLV JR
3 0 0 Charles Sims Houston JR
2 2 0 Zac Stacy Vanderbilt SR
1 1 0 Darrin Reaves UAB SO
1 2 1 Kenjon Barner Oregon SR
2 0 1 Giovani Bernard N Carolina SO
1 2 1 Kerwynn Williams Utah State SR
3 0 1 Robbie Rouse Fresno St SR
1 0 1 Bishop Sankey Washington SO
3 0 1 Stepfan Taylor Stanford SR
1 1 1 Dri Archer Kent State JR
1 1 1 Carlos Hyde Ohio State JR
1 2 1 Latavius Murray UCF SR
1 1 1 Jerome Smith Syracuse JR
1 1 1 Jawon Chisholm Akron SO
1 0 2 Stefphon Jefferson Nevada JR
1 0 2 Antonio Andrews Western Ky JR
1 0 2 David Fluellen Toledo JR
1 0 2 Beau Blankenship Ohio JR
1 1 2 Kasey Carrier New Mexico JR
1 0 2 Adam Muema SDSU SO
1 0 2 Venric Mark N'western JR
2 0 2 Raymond Maples Army JR
1 1 2 Eddie Lacy Alabama JR
1 1 2 Mike Gillislee Florida SR
1 1 2 D.J. Harper Boise St SR
1 0 3 Zurlon Tipton C Mich JR
1 0 3 Cody Getz Air Force SR
1 0 3 George Winn Cincinnati SR
61 22 31 Totals    

I have to admit, I was pretty surprised.  Only 15 (37.5%) avoided having insignificant or redshirt seasons their first year on campus.  And only six (15%) were the primary starters as true freshman, leaving nine (22.5%) as back-ups.  That means the vast majority, 25 players (62.5%) spent at least one year doing nothing or next-to-nothing.  Of those 25, only four (10%) went from insignificance to starting in one season.  The rest (21, 52.5%) spent at least two years developing before becoming starters.  And nearly as many (14, 35%) spent multiple years doing almost nothing as jumped right in as contributors (PS or SB) in their true freshmen campaigns.  Heck, even Eddie Lacy redshirted.

This is admittedly a small sample size, but it's enough to draw some basic conclusisons:

  • Plenty of talented RBs have insignificant seasons; many have more than one
  • RARELY does a freshman RB burst onto the scene as a primary starter
  • About half of these guys spend at least two years developing before they start
  • The experts are idiots (of course, I must admit that I believed the "if they're any good they'll contribute as true freshmen stuff before I looked at it)

And some Michigan-specific conclusions:

  • If Green and/or Smith doesn't contribute significantly this year, he's unlikely to start next year
  • We shouldn't worry if Green and/or Smith doesn't contribute significantly this year
  • Hope is not lost for Hayes, Johnson, or even Rawls.

It's worth noting that a few of the guys that spent multiple seasons developing turned out to be pretty darn good players.  Guys like Eddie Lacy, Venric Mark, Carlos Hyde, Kenjon Barner, and Stefphon Jefferson all spent at least a couple seasons as insignificant contributors.  On the flipside of that coin, lots of the best talent contributed early: Ka'Deem Carey, Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball, Johnathan Franklin, and Todd Gurley.

Basically, we don't need to worry if Green and Smith don't contribute this year.  It's definitely a good sign if they do, but there are much better things to be concerned about (S, OG, OC, and now WR) in 2013.

Justice Hayes UFR

Justice Hayes UFR

Submitted by Blazefire on September 20th, 2012 at 1:50 AM

[Ed-S: Bumped to Diary. Plus this man!]

So, Brian quit charting UMass before we even got to the 4th quarter, where one big time recruit Justice Hayes got the first carries of his Michigan career. I don't think enough attention has been paid to those carries, be they with backups in the game or not. A guy's first carries in Michigan Stadium deserve a little review, so I thought I'd try to UFR some of his plays

I don't have a full game video, only highlights, so I don't have all the information, but I can do a simple review. Unfortunately, the highlights only have two plays with him in it. If others have better insight, please share it. I'm very much an amature.

Play 1

Set: Angle too tight, but it looks like a Shotgun Split, with Bellomy, Gyarmati and Hayes all pretty much on the same line, 3 Wide.

Play: Zone Read? Not sure if this is actual read or not, but while the others appear to be run blocking, Gunderson looks like he went to a pass block, so maybe?

Player: Bellomy

Result: 9 yards

Players: Mateus - Burzynski - Miller - Glasgow - Gunderson

                               Gyarmati - Bellomy - Hayes

Glasgow pulls at the snap, taking off playside. Gunderson's man takes a wide circle around him, and Gunderson seems momentarily confused about who to block, first looking towards center, then back outside. He eventually gets in the way of the SDE who wasn't going to get to the mesh point in time anyway. Miller(+1) gets into his man and shoves him off the line, while Mateus (+1) and Burzynski(+1) double the other DT and take him well out of the play. Glasgow has pulled quickly (+1), while he, Gyarmati, Hayes AND Bellomy all take off playside.

The WDE crashes, but then squares up to take a block from Glasgow, who angles past him. He then turns to deal with a block from Gyarmati, who is headed behind him. Finally, he looks towards the Bellomy-Hayes mesh, his indecision making it impossible for him to get either. he chooses the wrong guy anyway. (-1, that guy. If you're gonna go with a guy, get there fast. If you're gonna hesitate, at least pick the right guy).

Bellomy sells it on the hand off, and Hayes follows Gyarmati behind the WDE while Bellomy follows Glasgow inside. I love how hard Hayes sells this, and the whole play side of the field follows him out. Beautiful fake. I'll +1 him on it.

Gyarmati gets out on the LB (I think. Can't see it, but he's got a block on someone), Miller loses his man but delayed him juuuust long enough, and Mateus & Bryant have crushed their donkey so hard that 5 yards upfield, Glasgow is still looking for someone to block. Bellomy hits a big time hole (+1). Glasgow finally finds a WLB to block, and the SLB and Safety combine to bring down Bellomy at the one.

- Seems like everybody did their jobs here, though I'd like to see Gunderson be more decisive. Not sure if it was the combo  block that delayed the LB's, having to go out around it, or an RPS with them dropping to pass coverage. Curse you, highlight angles!

Play 2

Set: I-form, 2 TE Set.


Player: Hayes

Result: 1 Yard, TD

Players: Same as before, with Kwiatkowski and Paskorz in at TE.

Solid blocking all along the line. Kwiatkowski, Burzynski and Glasgow get no push. Burzynski, Glasgow, Mateus/Paskorz and Kwiatkowski get linemen while Miller, Gunderson and Gyarmati get LB's. Miller(+1) and Gunderson(+1) have both gotten fantastic blocks, which is a shame, because Burzynski(-1) and Glasgow(-1) allow their men to roll together and completely fill what should be a massive middle hole while a safety fills the left side hole. This play was going right, so it's not a big deal, but this is goal line. EVERYBODY should go backwards into the endzone.

Gyarmati (+2) gets out on his LB and brings a safety along with him(!) and a sizeable hole opens right that Hayes hits with authority.  The safety and guard both get a hand on Hayes, but not till after he's crossed the plane. Touchdown!

Anything to add?

Justice Hayes: Thomas to make decision on 31st

Justice Hayes: Thomas to make decision on 31st

Submitted by REDvsBLUE on January 22nd, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Justice Hayes is at it again.  He says Thomas will make his decision on the 31st.  Is this Lawrence Thomas he refers to?  Because I thought he was solid to MSU.  If we can pick this guy up that would be huge and a big smack in the face to MSU

TomVH: January 21st Weekend Visitors

TomVH: January 21st Weekend Visitors

Submitted by TomVH on January 20th, 2011 at 1:41 PM

We might as well get this post up today since the list is growing by the minute it seems. If anyone had concerns about the new coaching staff and their recruiting ability, they're probably not asking anymore. Brady Hoke seems like he's in 10 different places at once, and the buzz they've started to create in a short amount of time has been outstanding. Here's a look at the visitors list so far for this weekend. Remember this list will continue to grow, and could shrink so check back.

  • Commit RB Justice Hayes (4 Star, 5'10", 175 lbs)- Justice being on campus this weekend will help with recruiting. He's been talking up Michigan to quite a few recruits now.
  • DB Stefan McClure (4 Star, 5'11", 170 lbs)- Defensive back out of California. Has a good relationship with Hoke from being at SDSU. I think Michigan has a real shot with Stefan.
  • DB Raymon Taylor (4 Star, 5'10", 165 lbs)- Raymon might decide to wait a little bit to commit, but I think it's safe to say he'll most likely pick Michigan.
  • K Matt Wile - (6'2", 210 lbs)Here's my interview yesterday with Matt's coach. I wouldn't be surprised if Wile was a Wolverine by Tuesday.
  • TE/LB Frank Clark (3 Star, 6'2", 210 lbs)- Glenville prospect that I think Michigan has a good chance with.
  • OL Tony Posada (3 Star, 6'5", 315 lbs)- The coaches were out to Florida this week to see Tony, and I think this visit will be his last. He should be firm to Michigan again.
  • LB Leilon Willingham (4 Star, 6'3", 230 lbs)- I spoke to Leilon's coach today, and it looks like this visit is happening. Willingham is committed to Texas A&M and was supposed to visit the Aggies this weekend. If he cancelled that trip to visit Michigan then that's a pretty strong statement.
  • DB Tamani Carter (3 Star, 5'11", 172 lbs) - Michigan's newest commit is visiting.

Tweet Post: Justice Hayes Recruiting

Tweet Post: Justice Hayes Recruiting

Submitted by MGoShoe on January 13th, 2011 at 8:47 PM

For the non-tweeters among you (and those who want some potential good news).

Take it for what it's worth:

  1. Justice_League_ We need some more recruits!
  2. Justice_League_ I'm on it!
  3. Justice_League_ Hahah!!! I told you I'd help get more commits!!! Hahah... Watch in the next few days

A Couple Pertinent Sunday Night Recruiting Bits

A Couple Pertinent Sunday Night Recruiting Bits

Submitted by DGDestroys on December 12th, 2010 at 10:13 PM

I don't normally do this, but I'm bored, and I figure that when the MGoCommunity stacks the CC against a small recruiting update, they'll consistently take the latter. Don't get me wrong, you can read the whole thing in a Cris Carter accent if you want. 

First and foremost, according to (but mostly Tom's tweet), Dr. P (Fl) S Roderick Ryles has decommited from Arkansas. He's presumably coming up with the big pack of Dr. P kids sometime in January, and was recruited (and offered) fairly heavily in early October. You can probably expect more from Tom tomorrow/sometime soon. Recruitment Rankings (to be given the cold shoulder):

Scout: 2* Safety

Rivals: 3* Safety, #21 ranked safety nationally

ESPN: 3* Safety, #47 ranked safety nationally

Second, the era of prosperity under Butch Jones in Cincinnati can now commence with the commitment of GA DE/TE Silverberry Mouhon. Silverberry is likely finish a close second to Wake Forest commit FL DE Gods-Power Offor for name of the year. 

Third, you can expect a January commitment from MI DE Anthony Zettel (not necessarily to UM), who took his official visit this week, was hosted by Jordan Paskorz, and hung out with commit MI T Jake Fisher most of the weekend. He's also been to several bowl practices. 

Justice Hayes wants Dee to stay blue, and is willing to throw in smiley faces(Sidenote: Rosenberg, this isn't a violation, back off) to keep him.

I wonder if meyer stepping down really have an effect on dee hart staying at home (michigan) we need you bro :)

Finally, for any super-optimists out there (you know, the type still waiting for Lawrence Thomas to decommit from MSU), CA WR George Farmer committed to USC. Before anyone asks, no, we never really had a chance with him. 

Just a few bits that aren't worthy of their own thread, but might when you string em' together. 

Justice Hayes... Percy Harvin?

Justice Hayes... Percy Harvin?

Submitted by KevbosLastingLessons on December 8th, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Nothing to do with any CC's, but does anyone get the feeling that Michigan can use Justice like Florida used Percy? I can see him going in motion and becoming a handoff option, or going into motion into the backfield, get set, and then run a read option. He just seems to have that quick burst, ability, and build that made Percy so great. Truly an all-purpose guy. What do you guys think?

TVHWeekly: Jack Tabb & Kris Frost Visits, More

TVHWeekly: Jack Tabb & Kris Frost Visits, More

Submitted by TomVH on November 22nd, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Michigan's loss this weekend was tough for fans, but it didn't seem to affect how the visiting recruits perceived Michigan's program. Here's their reaction with a few extras as usual.

Jack TabbJack Tabb

6'4", 230 lbs.

Tight End

Red Bank, New Jersey

Michigan has been trying to land a tight end in this class for some time now. They missed on a few, and have now targeted Tabb as their guy. This was Jack's second time to Michigan, but first for an actual game.

It was a great visit. The game was as good as you could dream of. 110,000 people, it was absolutely wild. It was a real cool environment, besides the loss, but I felt really comfortable with everyone there.

Tabb's mom was with him on his visit, and she seemed to have the same feelings as her son about the overall experience at Michigan.

Mom really liked it. She liked everything, how it was the total package. I talked to the coaches, and Rich Rodriguez told us how he really me, needs me at tight end, and that there's an opportunity to play early.

Tabb will visit North Carolina on December 3rd and may go to Arkansas after that. He's already been to Iowa. He is going to make his decision before Christmas, so this visit was big for Michigan. If I had to guess, I would say that this visit may have put Michigan in the lead.

Kris FrostKris Frost

6'3", 210 lbs.


Matthews, North Carolina

Kris Frost has been open about his love for Michigan. I've been in close contact with Frost, and have a good picture of his recruitment, and how it will play out. This visit was instrumental for Michigan. Since Auburn is closer, he's been able to take more visits, and has allowed them to gain quit a bit of ground on Michigan lately. He said this before the visit this weekend.

I'm excited for the visit to Michigan, because I want to see what it's like up there for the game. Auburn is making it really hard for me. Every time I go down there they show me a great time, and they showed me how I would fit in. So this visit to Michigan is going to be big for me.

I didn't get to talk to Kris in depth last night after his visit since he was traveling. We have a phone call scheduled for later today, and I can get you the full details after that. He did have this to say so far, though.

The visit was great, it was basically what I was hoping for. I'm still planning on going to LSU and Cal, then making my decision at the Army game.

I'll have more quotes and better detail later today. He obviously didn't commit, but this visit was a big help for Michigan. He has told me that he is watching the NCAA situation at Auburn very closely.

Ryan PetroRyan Petro

6'3", 210 lbs.


Winter Springs, Florida

Petro was recently added to Michigan's radar but hasn't been offered yet. He took an unofficial trip up to Ann Arbor this weekend and was blown away by the experience.

It was my first trip to any college game. It was crazy going to the biggest stadium in the country. Even if I go anywhere else, I don't think anywhere can compare to that. It was a lot more than I expected. The noise from everyone, people cheering, it was amazing.

Ryan plans to come back to Michigan for an official visit in December. The visit isn't set in stone yet, but will most likely be December 10th, for the Big Chill.

I loved the visit. The coaches were great, Mike Barwis was amazing. Everyone was really laid back and easy to talk to. The facilities were amazing, too. If they were to offer me, I would probably commit after what I saw this weekend.

Petro may have to wait to receiver his offer depending on how other recruits Michigan is targeting make their decisions. Either way, the coaches do like his athleticism, and have told him he has the potential to play the hybrid linebacker/safety role.

Devin LucienDevin Lucien

6'1", 189 lbs.

Wide Receiver

Encino, California

Devin recently received an offer from Michigan, and was excited to receive the news. The four star receiver said that Michigan was one of his favorite programs, and was glad the offer came through.

I will be visiting Michigan for sure, it just depends on when my season ends. We're still in the playoffs, so I'm not too sure. Michigan is in my top five though. I'm not ready to say who's in the top five besides them, but they're in it.

Sammy Watkins committed to Clemson today, which was a surprise to me. I knew he was announcing soon, but didn't think it would be for Clemson. This offer to Lucien makes sense in that light, although I still think something happened with Watkins. Nonetheless the coaches are very high on Lucien and told him how they felt:

The coaches just told me that I was a great receiver, and they like the way I play the game. They think that Michigan is a great fit for me, and I do too.

Lucien isn't going to make his decision until signing day, so there's no hurry to get him on campus. I'm sure the staff would like to get him in for the Big Chill on December 10th.


  • Michigan running back Justice Hayes has opened up his recruitment, and decommitted from Notre Dame. He says Michigan, Tennessee, and Notre Dame are in it, but I believe that Tennessee is the main school he's looking at. He and Demetrius Hart are similar runners.
  • Glenville teammates QB Cardale Jones and WR Shane Wynn are planning on visiting Michigan. Wynn said, "I'm definitely taking a visit there." 
  • Wide receiver Sammy Watkins committed to Clemson. I still think something happened to change his mind or that it was so close and ultimately decided for Clemson. I'm going to find out if this is over or if he still plans on visiting with Dallas after the playoffs.

TomVH: Justice Hayes Update

TomVH: Justice Hayes Update

Submitted by TomVH on November 21st, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Wanted to post this separately so everyone saw it. RB Justice Hayes has decommitted from Notre Dame. He's now considering Tennessee, Notre Dame, and Michigan.

I spoke to him briefly about it, and he said that Michigan is in it for him. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tennessee get him either, though since DeAnthony Arnett is his friend.