Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

SETH ON MICHIGAN RUNNING BACKS

From Seth...

Mike Hart will make it in the NFL. Here's how I figure: Dan Connor (of Penn State) is an NFL-ready linebacker, who would start this year for probably half the NFL teams. Hart and Conner went head to head and Hart beat Conner more times than not. Last year, Penn State had both Conner and Paul Posluzsny, who's now in the running for rookie of the year (why didn't the Lions take him -- oh yeah -- Drew "the knee" Stanton), and Hart beat both of them. Now go back to Ron Dayne versus Michigan linebackers of his era like Ian Gold and Dhani Jones -- Dayne was a bruising back who wracked up more yards against college linebackers than any other college running back in history. But when he met a team with NFL linebackers, he was stopped every time. Shawn Alexander (Alabama), however, ran those same linebackers ragged in the Orange Bowl. And lo and behold, he became a top NFL rusher.

Willis McGahee, Ronnie Brown and Larry Johnson are three more examples of guys who won head-to-head battles in college with top NFL linebacker talents, and they ended up among the NFL's best rushers. I won't even mention Reggie Bush. Now, remember the guys who were college stars but got stuffed against big-time linebackers? Michael Bennett. Deuce McAllister. Brian Calhoun. T.J. Duckett. Antonio Pittman. Tony Hunt. And every Penn State tailback but Johnson. And, sad to say, Chris Perry, Biakabatuka, and even A-Train. All had bad (under 4 yards per carry) facing NFL linebackers in college. All, without question, great college backs. All 2nd tier guys at best in the NFL.

Carlos Brown was a total steal for us. He was in the South, and the SEC schools were offering him money and cars and a personal cheerleader to do his homework while giving him BJs to play, and it looked like Michigan's meagre "you'll get a great education and become a stand-up man" recruitment wouldn't stick. But then he said he's coming here on signing day.

He was an elite running back in his class, but also had the makings of a great cornerback in the mold of Leon Hall (speed, size, quicks and smarts, but not great hands) and we were in the process of converting him to that position this summer, since he was going to be 4th on the depth chart behind Hart, Grady and Brandon Minor. But Grady got injured, and Minor wasn't really mature enough to be Hart's top backup. We didn't get any big-time running back freshmen in 2008, and we graduated Jerome Jackson and Alijah Bradley, and Max Martin transferred. So Brown switched back to tailback.

He doesn't have the power of Hart and Grady or the cuts of Hart, but he's got better speed than either of them, and better hands protection-wise, than Minor. He could be a good return man, too. Fred Jackson, the running backs coach, asked that he not return kicks and punts because we're thin at tailback, and also Greg Mathews reportedly worked his ass off to win returns this year, and has about the same ability.

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