Top Running Back in Nation Commits to Michigan
By Tony Gerdeman
Derrick Green, a tailback out of Hermitage High School in Richmond, Virginia verbally committed to the University of Michigan on Saturday afternoon.
Green (6-0 220), who attended the same high school as current Buckeye linebacker Curtis Grant, is a five-star prospect and the number one running back in the 2013 class according to both Rivals and Scout. Rivals ranks Green as the #8 prospect overall and Scout ranks him as the #6 prospect overall.
ESPN ranks Green a four-star prospect (#38 overall) and the #5 running back, while 247Sports has him #84 overall and the #8 running back. He rushed for 1,285 yards on 184 carries (7.0 ypc) and 20 touchdowns last season.
His final decision came down to Michigan, Auburn and Tennessee. He also had offers from Alabama, Clemson, USC, Ohio State, Georgia, Florida State, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Green grew up an Ohio State fan and wore #27 in high school because of Eddie George. The Buckeyes were his long-time favorite, but that changed on July 25th of last year when Ohio State decided to end their recruitment.
"The Ohio State Coaching Staff has decided to go in another direction," is what Green tweeted that day.
With limited scholarship numbers due to NCAA sanctions and tailback Ezekiel Elliott already committed nearly four months earlier, as well as several young running backs already on the roster similar to Green, Ohio State decided that they just didn't have the room for him.
Fittingly, Ohio State's loss was once again Michigan's gain. Green is the second tailback commit for the Wolverines' 2013 class, joining Deveon Smith out of Warren, Ohio. Smith, the top running back in Ohio, chose Michigan over Ohio State back in March. He is the #11 running back in the nation according to Scout.
With Michigan's disappointing production from the tailback position last season, both Green and Smith are going to be expected to contribute, and possibly start next season.
Last year's starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint struggled all season long, and has shown himself to be more dangerous with Denard Robinson at quarterback as opposed to Devin Gardner. Since that's not going to happen next season with Robinson's graduation, and also because Toussaint suffered a significant leg injury in November, the job is essentially wide open.
Both Green and Smith would appear to be the most talented running backs on the roster for next season, but relying on freshmen to produce is a dangerous proposition for a team that is expected to compete for championships.
However, if a team is going to rely on freshmen, having it happen at running back is probably the safest place for it to occur. With Michigan continuing their transition into a power-running I-formation team, Green and Smith fit that downhill running style that both Al Borges and Brady Hoke desire.
Expect to see Green's name on every single preseason list of impactful freshmen for the 2013 season. Without Denard Robinson around to provide Michigan's running game any longer, Green was essential to the Wolverines' plans for next season.
In fact, Green is apparently so essential to Michigan's plans next season that his commitment brought Brady Hoke to tears.
"He was real excited," Green told 247Sports. "I kept him on his toes. But when I told him today he was just astounded and actually started crying. It was crazy, it was an unbelievable experience."
A freshman leading the Wolverines in rushing isn't unheard of. Mike Hart did it in 2004 when he rushed for 1,455 yards and 9 touchdowns as a freshman in 2004.Don't expect either Green or Smith to match those numbers, though they could certainly eclipse Hart's most dubious number – that being his zero victories over Ohio State.
Michigan's recruiting class now stands at 27 commitments, with six early enrollees. Scout ranks Michigan's class number one overall, and they rank Ohio State third. However, ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports all currently rate OSU's class as better than Michigan's.
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