RB Green highlights Michigan’s class of 27

Michigan’s top rusher last season was its quarterback and with

Denard Robinson’s college career now over, the Wolverines’ offense

will look a lot different in the future.

Enter running backs Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, who both

signed with Michigan on Wednesday as part of coach Brady Hoke’s

27-man recruiting class. Expectations are high for Green – the

nation’s top-ranked running back recruit, according to Scout.com –

but the staff is eager to see what Smith can do as well.

”I think with Derrick and De’Veon, you have two very physical

runners,” Hoke said. ”Both of them, though, have a very good

instinct, and when I say that, I think they’ve got good vision and

good balance, can break tackles. That’s something that we felt we

would need.”

Green, a Richmond, Va. product, scored over 20 touchdowns as

both a junior and a senior in high school. Smith, of Warren, Ohio,

ran for 6,750 yards in his high school career.

The Wolverines lose Robinson, and running back Fitzgerald

Toussaint is recovering after breaking his left leg in

mid-November. That leaves some immediate opportunities for other

running backs, although Hoke said that wasn’t a big part of his

recruiting pitch.

”When you recruit, you can make a mistake telling a guy,

`You’re going to do this, you’re going to do that.’ We don’t do

that,” Hoke said. ”We obviously educate them on where we’re at

and what we’re trying to do. I think we educate them on how we’re

going to play and the competition that will always be there if you

have a good program.”

Green and Smith are both 5-foot-11. They weigh 220 and 218

pounds. Running backs coach Fred Jackson says size is important for

the position.

”Watch the national championship game and see how Notre Dame

attacked those two big 230-pounders – and see who got hit,”

Jackson said. ”With big backs, it’s going to help us be a better

football team.”

Jackson also expressed confidence in Toussaint’s return after

seeing him recently.

”I saw him running around early in the morning – I was

shocked,” Jackson said. ”I mean, the kid had a broken leg. Ten

years ago, that probably wouldn’t be the case, but he was running

around the other day, and I don’t know if they had him cutting, but

he was running around. To me, that’s got to be tremendous

progress.”

Scout ranked Michigan the No. 2 recruiting class in the country,

behind only rival Ohio State. Alabama was No. 3, one of six

Southeastern Conference teams in the top 10 as of Wednesday

afternoon.

”This is all competition – we live our lives in competition,”

Hoke said. ”Yes, these are the kind of classes we would like to

have on a year-to-year basis.”

The class was made up primarily of Midwesterners, including

eight prospects from Michigan and nine from Ohio. Michigan didn’t

sign anybody from Florida, Texas or California.

”That 350 to 400-mile radius is always going to be important

for us. This state is always going to be important for us. The

state of Ohio, Chicago – those are going to be very important areas

for us,” Hoke said. ”We are always going to be in national

recruiting because we are a national brand. It changes yearly. We

took nine guys out of the state of Ohio. Ohio was pretty good this

year when you look at the top-tier talent that was there.”

One in-state recruit the Wolverines landed was quarterback Shane

Morris of Warren, Mich. Morris missed time during his senior season

with mono, but he threw for 19 touchdowns as a junior.

”He’s what we were looking for,” offensive coordinator Al

Borges said. ”We wanted a passer-runner – a kid that could throw

the ball first. But we didn’t want a guy that was going to be a

statue in the pocket either. He possesses enough athleticism I

think to get us out of some jams, but he has a good enough arm to

make all the throws.”