Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 65 year ago, when he spent the season at 190 pounds. "I know he is doing all the right things. He certainly looks like he is a little bit thicker, stronger, but in terms of exact weight, maybe it is only a handful of pounds, but even a little bit can add sturdiness and help, but just experience for him [will also help]," Jay Harbaugh said this spring. "You get a season under your belt and then add spring ball and fall camp, it is going to be huge for him." That doesn't include the summer, either, which Evans promised would not go to waste. He'd already spent added time in the film room in addition to the weight room, and he understands pass protection will play a big part in who gets many of the snaps this fall. "You always look to be a complete back … for him that really means gaining a full understanding of what is going on around him," Harbaugh continued. "It is hard when you are a young player. It is cliché, but the game slows down as you get older and get more experience. You understand where to look and what to see and not be consumed by chaos when you don't know where to look." A lot of it is mental and just comes with experience, the coach noted, which Evans still doesn't have a ton of. That figures to change significantly this year should he continue on his present path, leading to what has the potential to be an outstanding career. ❏ Rivals.com rated Evans a three-star recruit, but he sur- passed expectations by ranking second on the team with 614 rushing yards in his rookie year. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Chris Evans ran for 614 yards as a true freshman, the third-best total in Michi- gan history. Freshmen weren't eligible to play in their first years until the 1970s, but several U-M backs have made impacts in their first years since. Here's a look at how U-M's top freshman rushers fared in their second seasons: 1. Mike Hart (2004, 2005): Hart shattered the Michigan record for most rushing yards in a season by a freshman with 1,455 in 2004. He rushed for nine touchdowns and had 26 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown catch. A hamstring injury slowed him his second year, but he started eight of Michigan's 12 games and played sparingly in three of those. He finished the season with 662 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and added 16 receptions for 154 yards and a score. 2. Ricky Powers (1990, 1991): Powers started only one game in 1990, but set the Michigan freshman rushing record with 789 rushing yards — a mark Hart nearly doubled. He led U-M to wins in its last four games with 100-yard rushing efforts in each contest, and notched five overall. He started 11 of 12 games and was named to the All-Big Ten team as a sophomore, rushing for 1,251 yards. 3. Chris Evans (2016, 2017): Evans will look to build on his 614-yard debut and is the favorite to start this fall. 4. Jamie Morris (1984, 1985): Morris set the Michigan freshman rushing record with 573 yards in 1984 on his way to becoming the Wolverines' all-time rushing leader (he now stands fourth on the list). He followed up with his first of three 1,000-yard seasons the following year, running for 1,030 yards, including 156 in a Fiesta Bowl win over Nebraska. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors and followed up with first-team accolades each of the following two years. 5. Tyrone Wheatley (1991, 1992): Wheatley set the Michigan freshman yards- per-attempt record with 555 yards on 86 carries for a 6.4-yard clip in 1991. He broke through the following year with his first of three consecutive first-team All-Big Ten selections. He rushed for 1,387 yards and 13 touchdowns, added three receiving touchdowns, was the Big Ten rushing and scoring leader and earned the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Award. 6. Anthony Thomas (1997, 1998): Thomas was a member of the undefeated 1997 national champions and was the No. 2 rusher behind Chris Howard. He twice rushed for more than 100 yards (122 yards against Baylor and 129 yards against Iowa), and compiled a total of 549 rushing yards and 219 receiving yards. He was honored as the 1997 Big Ten Freshman of the Year by both the conference coaches and media. He then led the Wolverines in rushing for three consecutive years, including 893 yards as a sophomore. 7. Butch Woolfolk (1978, 1979): Woolfolk ran for 359 yards as a true freshman in 1978, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and followed up with an All-Big Ten year in 1979, when he ran for 990 yards and scored 13 touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He led the Wolverines in rushing for three straight seasons. — Chris Balas How Michigan's Top Freshman Rushers Fared In Their Second Years Mike Hart debuted in 2004 with 1,455 yards and nine rushing touch- downs (plus another 237 yards and one score as a receiver), while helping Michigan to a 9-3 showing and Rose Bowl berth after shar- ing the league title with Iowa. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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