|Running back Demetrius Hart (Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, FL) committed to Michigan on Friday.|
The long awaited commitment from Demetrius Hart finally occurred on Friday night. Hart had originally scheduled a press conference for Friday afternoon, but then changed his announcement time to his post-game. Hart is a 5'8", 180 lb. running back from Orlando. He's a 4-star prospect to all three major recruiting services, and while he's the #1 all purpose back to Rivals, he's the #9 overall running back to both Scout and ESPN. In other words, he's good.
The story of Hart has been repeated over and over on Michigan blogs and message boards, so I won't waste anyone's time recapping his recruitment in minute detail. He was a good friend of Michigan freshman wide receiver Ricardo Miller when Miller attended Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando. Once he was offered by the University of Michigan, the Wolverines jumped to the forefront of his recruitment. The only thing preventing Hart from committing was the uncertain job status of Rich Rodriguez and the impending NCAA sanctions. If not for those issues, Hart likely would have committed much earlier. But when Michigan reached 5-0 on the season and Rodriguez's tenure seemed strengthened, Hart decided it was time to commit.
As for Hart's talent, he's essentially pre-ACL tear Vincent Smith on steroids. Hart is two inches taller than Smith, but he's also quicker, faster, and shiftier with better vision. Back in June, I ranked the the 13 available running backs that Michigan had offered up to that point. Hart was placed at #2 (behind current Clemson commit Mike Bellamy) on that list. I'm also on the record as saying that Hart is the most exciting Michigan recruit in the combined 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes, except perhaps Devin Gardner. I have been a big critic of Michigan's running backs so far this season, but I believe Hart is the answer at running back. Oft-injured Fitzgerald Toussaint is bigger and stronger than Hart and has plenty of wiggle, but Hart has more potential as an all-around back and playmaker. If he can avoid injury, Hart should combine with Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner to create an extremely dangerous rushing combo in Michigan's backfield.
This commitment gives the Wolverines 11 commitments in the Class of 2011, a class on pace to max out at 22 scholarships. Michigan is also pursuing Florida running back/slot receiver Devondrick Nealy, who made an official visit for Saturday's game against Michigan State; and Thomas Rawls, a powerful back from Flint, MI, who has yet to earn an offer but could do so if he gets his academics in line. Coach Rich Rodriguez has been looking for at least one slot receiver for the entire recruiting process, and Rawls could take the place of the departed Austin White, so it's not infeasible that Michigan would take all three players in this class.