Michigan Football Preview- Detroit News

Submitted by CHI_BLU on August 31st, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Sam Webb breaks down the RB's and a interview with Fred Jackson.. Also Ranks UM'S All-Time top 10 RB'S

1.Tom Harmon

2.Mike Hart






Charlie Chunk

August 31st, 2011 at 9:55 AM ^

I am fortunate enough to have seen many of these running backs play in person.  We have a great tradition here at Michigan. 

The new coaching staff will have this latest crop of talent fighting to be added to that list.  It's easy to be a Michigan fan when there's so much to be proud of!  Go Blue!


August 31st, 2011 at 10:10 AM ^

they are designed to generate a bunch of discussion that can never be resolved that just goes on endlessly. but i will fall for it. i would have to say that having mike hart on a list with tom harmon is a stretch. its like a discussion about satchell page being better than greg maddox - they are too disparate to compare. harmon essentially played a different position, throwing td passes and kicking field goals.

also, how does a list of the best running backs in HISTORY make a PREVIEW article?

Greg McMurtry

August 31st, 2011 at 10:35 AM ^

Wheatley higher than #5 and definitely ahead of A-Train.  Of course I know little about Harmon as well, so who knows with him?  In my opinion, which we all know are like assholes, if I were asked which RB would I choose to have on my team out of all of the past Michigan running backs, I would choose Tyrone Wheatley.  Mike Hart had the intangibles, but I think Wheatley is the guy I would choose.


August 31st, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

Harmon was a 'back', but did so much, it's hard to compare him to the others. It's hard to compare eras and athleticism, but I have no problem with a guy winning a Heisman #1 if you want to consider him one.  But I've seen all the rest, and Wheatley was better than them all. He was a  big back, but with track speed. This just looks like they took a list of career rushing yards, and didn't consider the players. Guys like Wheatley and those before him had other great RB's sharing the load at the time. There wasn't a lot to turn to after Hart.

And I might put Ron Johnson over guys like Chris Perry too...(Biakabutuka was underrated too. There aren't very many guys on that list I'd take over him, either).

True Blue Grit

August 31st, 2011 at 10:37 AM ^

I saw all those guys play in person save Tom Harmon.  You can argue about where each player is ranked until the end of time.  My favorites were probably Wheatley, Woolfolk, and Hart.  The first two had real break-away speed, and when they broke into the open field, it was most likely a TD.  Mike H may have been the smartest back we've had, as well as having the best 2nd and 3rd effort.  We need to get back to the days of having a great back to build the running game around. 


August 31st, 2011 at 10:55 AM ^

I never saw Tom Harmon play in person, but he was a beast from the clips I watched and could basically do everything. Also, he won the Heisman, so he is easily # 1 in my book. There might have been other backs more talented than Mike Hart. I agree with that. I realize that Hart also stayed all 4 years, but he is the leading rusher in U of M history with somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,040 yards. That is pretty darn good. Mike Hart always reminded me of Emmitt Smith, in regards to their styles of play. Undersized, but relentless. Might not be the most physically gifted backs, but they got the job done and did the tough running between the tackles as featured backs.

Blue in Seattle

August 31st, 2011 at 5:28 PM ^


I didn't think Harmon was listed as a position that could be considered running back, but maybe the guy who took the handoff at his time was called a Half Back?  I'll have to find the book I have on him, but I think that's what it is, and there might have been a quarter back position that actually blocked for the half back.  In any case, I always thought of Harmon as the double threat QB before that term really existed.

But the rest of the list is just sorting by yardage.  All of Michigan's RB's got good yardage because Michigan recruited excellent lineman.  A-Train happened to be a freshman at the same time three outstanding lineman were freshman, so he had the comfort of playing with the sam OL group almost his entire college career.  I've always wondered why Michigan's running backs seemed to have such high yds per attempt averages, but would not make it as well in the NFL against other backs with less statistics.  I think more of it was from the blocking of the offensive line and the run oriented mindset of Michigan that has lead to statistical greatness.

If you ranked them by other metrics, like explosive plays, kind of like they are comparing Denard, then I think you would see a different order to the list.

They did note that Biakabutuka had the season yardage record at like 1818.  Pretty amazing that Denard almost cracked that record too.



August 31st, 2011 at 11:24 AM ^

I saw Shawn Conway and did some research on him, but can't find any recent information.  Does anyone know if he still plans on attending UM?  I would hope so.  Maybe he could be the big target we are looking for.


August 31st, 2011 at 5:05 PM ^

I'm wondering how you can have a top 10 rushers list without Ron Johnson.  He played in the days of Freshman ineligibility and 10 game seasons, but still managed nearly 1400 yards his senior season -- and finished 6th in the Heisman voting.   At the time, that broke the Michigan rushing record by a huge amount.  His 19 rushing TDs that season is the best in Michigan history, post 1904.  He also had the greatest rushing game in Michigan history -- if not in College Football history.  He rushed for 347 yards and 5 TDs against Wisconsin, albeit haplesswisconsin, and came out of the game with 14 minutes to play -- after a 50+ yard run for his fifth touchdown.  if he had remained in the game, he probably would have gone well over 400 yards that day.