The Fred Jackson Hyperbole File Comment Count

Brian August 19th, 2011 at 10:47 AM

(caption) Michigan's Avery Horn returns a kick with Penn State safety Chaz Powell bearing down on him.    ***  After trailing 17-14 at halftime, the No. 3-ranked and undefeated Penn State Nittany Lions scored 32 second half points to avenge nine straight losses to Michigan by trouncing the Wolverines 46-17 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The loss drops the Wolverines to 2-5 on the season. Photos taken on Saturday, October 18, 2008.  ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )

Avery Horn, Sam McGuffie

So I got this email and I was going to put it in a mailbag and then I realized the world needed a stand-alone dossier of the things Fred Jackson has said about his running backs. This is it. This is the email:

Dear Brian,

You frequently make a jab at Fred Jackson and his son for jointly comparing freshman running back Thomas Rawls to Mark Ingram, saying that this comparison is part of Jackson hyperbole. It sounds like your point is that the Jacksons have a history of comparing mediocre running backs to great ones. However, in the "Fred Jackson Hyperbole Tracker" tab, when I click on it, the only posts it brings up are two, and both involve Rawls. Could you provide more instances where Jackson erroneously jumped the gun with a whacked-out comparison of a running back that only resulted in mediocrity?

The only additional comparison I can think of that Jackson (Sr.) made recently was that Stephen Hopkins reminds him a lot of Chris Perry. … Are there other times when Jackson did made comparisons and was wrong?

If there are, then Jackson certainly has a history of hyperbole, and your point stands. If not, then perhaps you're just being a little too cynical about the potential that Rawls has. Yes, it's probably always safer to be skeptical when someone says "this guy will be awesome," but it could be that Jackson hasn't been able to get excited about running backs in recent years. He did, after all, coach some decent running backs over the years, who did some good things for Michigan. Though I shouldn't need to tell you that.

Let me know what you find. I'd be curious to see if Jackson has done this before.


You defy the memes. I accept your challenge.


Roger Allison:

Jackson called Allison "unbelievable," adding the Lake Orion native has a chance to be "the best fullback we've ever had here." High praise indeed given he's only been hitting for a week.

David Underwood:

"Everybody used to say Anthony [Thomas] couldn't run, but nobody could catch him either. Underwood is like that. He can break out in the secondary and they'll say, 'He doesn't look like he's running,' but you won't find anybody catching him."

Avery Horn:

Running backs coach Fred Jackson called Horn the fastest tailback he has ever coached.

Mike Shaw and Sam McGuffie:

Luckily for Michigan, it has what running backs coach Fred Jackson calls the best two running backs in the same class in his 17 years with the Wolverines — freshmen Michael Shaw and Sam McGuffie.


“Sam is the quickest I’ve seen,” Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said.

Fitzgerald Toussaint:

"Michael Hart ability with speed," Jackson said, comparing Toussaint to U-M's all-time leading rusher. "The kind of guy that can do Michael's cuts, he can sit down, sink his hips and explode by making steps. He's faster than Mike and a very, very tough guy, like Mike was."

More Fitzgerald Toussaint:

"He's as talented as anyone who walked in the door," said Jackson, who has coached Michigan career leading rusher Michael Hart, Chris Perry, Anthony Thomas and Tyrone Wheatley, to name a few.

Jackson said he had never before heard of a player breaking his shoulder blade. But before the injury, Jackson saw budding talent.

"He's got great feet, acceleration, strength, power," Jackson said. "I can compare him to somebody -- he's like a fast Chris Perry. He's going to be very good."

Last year's group:

I got guys now that got me very excited. I'm talking about a couple years like '94, when we had Wheatley, Biakabutuka, Jesse Johnson, Eddie Davis, those kind of guys.

Brandon Minor (and the rest of the 2008 group):

Jackson said he never has had a speedier group of tailbacks while at Michigan, and he never has had a more physical back than senior Brandon Minor. … "I've coached a lot of tough guys, but I'm going to say right now, (Minor's) probably the toughest back I've ever coached physically," Jackson said.

Thomas Rawls:

"Thomas Rawls, to me, is a combination of Anthony Thomas and Chris Perry, but he's faster than both of them," Jackson said. "He's got their feet, their power, and he's got a running style more like Chris', because he really sinks before he hits you."

Rawls again:

"No doubt," Jackson said. "I saw him play enough. The kid's got the right stuff. He's just like [Alabama's Mark Ingram], but he's faster than Ingram. He ran 10.65 in the 100 meters, at 220 pounds. Just think about that."

Stephen Hopkins:

"Before he's done here, he'll be another Chris Perry. But I don't know if Chris was ever 230 pounds."

Denard Robinson:

Michigan RB Coach Fred Jackson didn’t hold back when talking about Shoelace’s speed, “I promise you this, there ain’t nobody in the country who can catch him,” Jackson said. In my 18 years here, I’ve never seen a kid that fast. Nowhere. And I’ve seen some fast kids on other teams, (but) I’ve never seen anybody that fast. “I mean, it’s scary. Every time you miss him in practice, strike the band up, it’s a touchdown. He’s going to shock a lot of people.”

Okay, that last one is right.

UPDATE 8/13/2012: On Thomas Rawls:

"He's got Mike Hart kind of feet, but a lot faster than Mike."

UPDATE 8/14/2012: Comparing Rawls to Mark Ingram

"They were almost identical high school backs," said Jackson. "Obviously, Mark Ingram had a great (offensive) line at Alabama that helped him along, but Thomas is a lot faster than Mark, (and) has the same type of ability. I'm not trying to compare them in any way but when you watched them in high school, they were very similar running backs."

On Dennis Norfleet:


"Norfleet is as quick as any kid at Michigan since I've been here," said Jackson, in his 21st season. "I've not seen a guy that quick." ...

"...I don't think (anybody) is faster than Denard," Jackson said. "(Norfleet's) got the quickness that will put him in the same positions Denard gets in quicker than Denard will get in them. Now, Denard once he gets side by side will pull (away) from him probably."



August 19th, 2011 at 10:54 AM ^

Terrelle Pryor- "He's like Michael Vick, only dumber"

Luke Fickell- "He's like Adam Sandler, only sweatier"

Jack Kennedy- "He's like Tom Brady, but with a better arm.  And he's far more handsome."

Brady Hoke- "He's like a combination of Andy Reid and Bill Belichick.  Literally.  It's like Andy Reid ate Bill Belichick."


August 19th, 2011 at 10:56 AM ^

i get the sense that the emailer is offended by Brian's take on FJ.  i think the emailer is taking Brian's comments the wrong way.  everyone likes FJ and thinks he's a great coach.  no one is criticizing him.  just poking fun and keeping his comments in perspective.


August 19th, 2011 at 11:00 AM ^

I can't even recall Roger Allison... 

I vividly remember Jackson talking about Shaw and McGuffie before the 2008 season started thinking that the offense will be fine with two up and coming greats in the backfield regardless of who was under center... i be wrong



August 19th, 2011 at 11:06 AM ^

This post was amazing. Like a cross between Kafka, Shakespeare, and Woodward and Bernstein. This "Brian" guy is gonna be considered one of the all-time greats by the time he leaves here...

Blue boy johnson

August 19th, 2011 at 11:08 AM ^

Alls I know is we have one fantastic stable of running backs right now, including Shaw, Hopkins, Toussaint. Why did RR insist on running Denard 400 times a game and leave these guys fresh as a daisy. We could have had three 1000 yard back last year. Fred must have been pulling his hair out on the sideline


August 19th, 2011 at 12:17 PM ^

Because when they got their chances they didn't do contrast to Denard who set NCAA records practically every game.  

In reality Denard running turns any RB in the backfield into an extra blocker which was a key ingredient to the special sauce for our offense last season.  

And Denard is the fastest guy on the team, bar none.


August 19th, 2011 at 12:49 PM ^

Who "didn't do anything"?  Fitzgerald Toussaint had a 61-yard carry and 1 touchdown on about 6 carries last year.  Michael Shaw averaged 5.4 yards a catch and had 9 touchdowns.  Michael Cox averaged about 9 yards a carry.

As far as I can see, the only ones who didn't do very well were Hopkins (4.1 yards/attempt) and Smith (who ought to be a 3rd down back, not a feature back).