|Thomas Rawls (#38) is transferring to Central Michigan|
Rawls was a late addition the 2011 recruiting class, needing some late academic success to propel him toward a scholarship at Michigan. He was probably headed to CMU if not for the offer to play in Ann Arbor, so this development is approximately three years in the making. My commitment post from February 2011 suggested that Rawls would be in over his head a little bit in the Big Ten, and I gave him a TTB Rating of 68. I always believe that Rawls was too slow and lacked elusiveness, and he didn't break as many tackles as a 5'10", 217 lb. running back should.
Rawls played sparingly during his three seasons as a Wolverine behind a variety of mediocre-performing running backs like Fitzgerald Toussaint (who did have a good year in 2011), Vincent Smith, Derrick Green, and De'Veon Smith, among others. His most productive season was as a sophomore in 2012 when he had 57 carries for 242 yards (4.2 yards/carry) and 4 touchdowns; that year included his career highlight, a 63-yard touchdown run late in a blowout win over Illinois. This past season, he had 3 carries for 12 yards and 1 touchdown in the season opener against his future team, but he never saw another snap again at running back and was relegated to special teams duty. He finished his Michigan career with 73 carries for 333 yards (4.6 yards/carry) and 5 touchdowns, plus 1 catch for 6 yards.
This leaves Michigan with four tailbacks on the roster for 2014: redshirt junior Justice Hayes, redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson, and sophomores Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith. The Wolverines have recently sent out offers to Sarasota (FL) Booker's Marlon Mack and Minneapolis (MN) Washburn's Jeff Jones, but neither appears to be even planning to visit Michigan, even though Mack decommitted from UCLA as soon as the Wolverines offered him. It would appear to make sense for Michigan to grab a running back before National Signing Day in a couple weeks, but things are quiet on that front right now. The last time Michigan skimped on an important position in a recruiting cycle, they didn't take a quarterback in the 2012 class, which left them in a bind when Denard Robinson and Russell Bellomy got injured at various points.
Rawls is the eighth member of the 2011 class to depart prior to exhausting eligibility, joining Chris Barnett, Greg Brown, Tamani Carter, Kellen Jones, Antonio Poole, Tony Posada, and Chris Rock.