Tuesday, June 10, 2014

2014 Season Countdown: #69 Ross Douglas

Ross Douglas
Name: Ross Douglas
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 186 lbs.
High school: Avon (OH) Avon
Position: Running back
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #29
Last year: I ranked Douglas #66 and said he would be a backup cornerback and special teamer. He redshirted.

Douglas enrolled early in January of 2013, which should have given him a bit of a leg up on some of the other freshman corners. By the time the season rolled around, however, he was behind fellow freshmen Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling. With a couple seasoned players at the position, Douglas sat out the year. After the hiring of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, the coaches moved Douglas to running back, a position he played successfully in high school. Without an emerging player at the position, they thought he might add an element of speed and provide some competition.

Now going into the 2014 season, it appears Michigan will have a plethora of options at running back going forward. Sophomores Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith return, and sophomore Ty Isaac (who may or may not be eligible this year) just transferred in from USC, which likely pushes Douglas further down the depth chart. He was unlikely to contribute much this year, anyway, but hopes of playing in the long-term may be dimming. In the short term, the scat back role can be filled by redshirt junior Justice Hayes. Douglas's best bet for playing time is probably on special teams coverage, but Michigan has some older guys who are probably more suited to filling those roles. I expect Douglas to watch most of this season from the bench.

Prediction: Backup running back


  1. The good news is that RB is probably his best position - he looked better on offense than defense in HS. Whether or not he can eke out a role remains to be seen. Interested in seeing what he can do, at least in garbage snaps this season. Frankly, I don't think Hayes brings a ton to the table, so I would not be shocked if he passed Hayes at some point. Don't see Ross beating out the bigger guys.

  2. Higher than I'd have expected for a guy so buried, but the 60s and 70s are going to be for players with marginal roles - redshirts or deep on the bench. I don't have much hope for Douglass' career, but I'd be happy if he proved me wrong.

    Hayes is a veteran and a highly ranked recruit that appears to be ahead of Green and Smith for the starting spot and has outproduced them in the bowl game and spring game, so I'm not sure why so many fans are down on him. Actually, I am - let's call it Vincentsmith Syndrome - short guy whose best attributes are exemplified on the majority of plays (where the running back doesn't carry the ball). He has almost no chance of being a star, so I think it's about people holding on to unrealistic hopes for young players.

    1. I've watched Hayes in a couple spring games and here and there in real games. I just don't see the burners that a smaller guy needs. He is a fourth year running back who has not made his mark yet despite UM having a very sub-par and injured stable of RB's the last several years. There was a huge need to someone to step up in '12 and '13 and Hayes neglected to make his mark. If he comes out and is a good starter for the first time as a 4th year player, that would be highly unusual. On top of all this, Nuss apparently prefers bigger RB's.

      And he was not as highly recruited as his rivals ranking would imply. ND lost interest and wiggled out of Hayes' commitment, and UM only took him late because they struck out on other guys. He was never a front-burner RB target in the way that Isaac, Green, and Smith were.

    2. I think Fitz Toussaint and Vincent Smith were pretty good backs. The problem has been with the OL.

      I haven't been impressed with the limited action Hayes has shown us, but he at least seems capable of being a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield. A pretty important skill for an OL that may not provide much in the way of pass protection, and with a QB who is good at improvising. Smith and Green haven't looked like better all-around backs to me.

      Nuss recruited Dee Hart and, I think Chris Polk. Nuss seems to be offering shorter/smaller backs than Borges did.

      Hayes was certainly more heavily recruited than Smith, but yeah - Green and Isaac were on another level.

    3. Hopefully, UM is back to having RB's who can challenge for all-conference or who have NFL potential. RB recruiting has definitely been down for the last decade. Guys like Troussaint, Smith, Brown, Shaw, etc. were all so-so. But you could always name at least five conference RB's who were better IMO.

    4. I have a (admittedly disputable) theory that M's RBs were never all that good and it was mostly about the OL. Even the very best backs Michigan had (Morris & Wheatley) went on to pretty mediocre careers in the NFL. Guys like Hart and Perry never did much. Thomas was a role player. IMO Biakabatuka was the most talented back Michigan had, but he was derailed by injuries. Fargas is probably up there too. The NFL production indicates there wasn't special talent coming through.

      Meanwhile, Michigan has consistently put all-pro linemen and long-term NFL starters through, highlighted by the 2000 OL which was future NFL starters across the board IIRC. Guys like Hutchinson and Goodwin had great careers and guys like David Baas did about as well as some of our star RBs. That's not even touching the unparalleled LT legacy going through Lewan-Long-Backus-Runyan etc.

      I think the decline in RB production is mostly the decline of OL recruiting since the late Carr era (mid 2000s). Rodriguez was building things back up for his system, but with a running QB and the system still in its nascent stages, it was hard for a RB to truly shine despite impressive YPA. Then the transition happened...now Hoke seems to be building up an impressive cast of talent again, but it's up to the coaches to show they are capable of turning those raw materials into production.

      In other words, Fitz, Shaw, Denard, McGuffie, Green, heck even Cox had talent as ball-carrier -- if you gave any of these backs the OL of years past they'd have done as well as most M backs. Or so I think.

  3. Hart did some very solid work in a somewhat dark era for UM linemen. There was Jake Long, of course, but what else? I think he had Baas for one year, then a bunch of no-names.

    Between the epic 2001 draft and the recent one (Lewan in 1st round, Schofield in 3rd round), here (unless I'm missing someone) are the UMich offensive line 1st/2nd-day picks:

    David Baas
    Jake Long

    That's crazy, isn't it? Reputations ("O-line University") die hard.

    1. Not exactly no-names. He did have two-time All-Big Ten Adam Kraus and Adam Stenavich, plus second team All-Big Ten Mark Bihl, and a couple other decent guys. They weren't high NFL draft picks, Hart was running behind several all-conference players throughout his career.