|Warren (OH) Howland running back DeVeon Smith committed to Michigan on Saturday|
Smith is a 5'11", 205 lb. power back. He estimated that he carried the ball 160 times for 2,200 yards as a junior in 2011. Actual statistics of any kind have eluded me so far.
ESPN: Unranked RB
Rivals: 3-star RB, #32 RB (updated on 3/19/2012)
Scout: 4-star RB, #7 RB
247 Sports: 3-star RB, 89 grade, #31 RB
Michigan was Smith's favorite team growing up, despite the fact that his older brother, Lance, played running back for Wisconsin and Memphis. His first offer came from the Wolverines back in December, and it seemed in the following weeks that Smith would become a Wolverine sooner or later. He held off on making a decision until he visited Michigan this weekend, which is a bit surprising because his high school coaches like their kids to wait a couple days after a visit before deciding.
There isn't a ton of film on Smith out there, but there's enough to get a glimpse of what he offers. He's a powerful back who's built low to the ground. He either works hard in the weight room or has the genes of a bowling ball, because that's how he runs. Both his upper and lower body are pretty thick, giving him excellent balance. He has a good stiff-arm and knows how to get downhill. His coach mentions in the article linked above that he also rarely fumbles. One of his best qualities seems to be that he knows what he is - a straight-ahead runner without the speed or elusiveness to be a dancer.
What Smith lacks is speed. He's not a breakaway type of runner, unless a linebacker or a couple defensive backs have been left behind as roadkill. He struggles to outrun high schoolers, and Howland doesn't exactly play the powerhouse schools in Ohio.
Some people want to compare Smith to Mike Hart, and I see that a little bit with his ability to bounce off of tackles. However, Smith doesn't possess the same elusiveness and might even be a tad bit slower. The guy Smith looks like to me is Leroy Hoard, the former Michigan running back who went on to a career with the Browns, Ravens, Panthers, and Vikings. Hoard was the same height and approximately 225 lbs., which Smith could easily reach in a couple years. Hoard was never a superstar, but he was a very solid player who excelled in part because his offensive line (at Michigan) was very good and got him to the second level against physically overmatched players. Considering the offensive line Michigan is putting together in the 2012 and 2013 classes, Smith might be able to take advantage of that same circumstance.
DeVeon Smith is Michigan's sixteenth commitment in the class of 2012, a class that currently looks to reach nineteen (although further attrition is almost assured). He's also the second running back, to go along with Novi (MI) Catholic Central's Wyatt Shallman. There is some question about whether the Wolverines will still pursue Joliet (IL) Catholic's Ty Isaac, who also likes Michigan and visited last weekend. I think Michigan will continue to pursue Isaac, who possesses the big-play ability that Shallman and Smith lack.
TTB Rating: 63 (rating system)