Weight: 220 lbs.
High school: Warren (OH) Howland
Position: Running back
Jersey number: #4
Last year: I ranked Smith #86 and said he would redshirt. He played in four games at running back and had 26 carries for 117 yards.
With an established starter (Fitzgerald Toussaint), some experienced backups (Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes), and a guy who earned some coach praise (Drake Johnson) already on the roster, I assumed at least one of the freshman running backs would redshirt in 2013. Instead, every one of those guys played in the season opener. There was a long stretch where he went without touching the ball, but he looked somewhat improved by the time he saw daylight again. He broke a 16-yarder against Northwestern and a 38-yarder against Ohio State. Of course, everything is relative; Michigan was the worst in the country at allowing negative-yardage runs because of a porous offensive line, so even a 16-yard run was a jaw-dropping moment in 2013. It appeared that Smith's bruising style fit the system and personnel best because he could actually run through tackle attempts occasionally, a skill with which the other running backs struggled.
Now the running back job is really up for grabs. Toussaint graduated, Rawls transferred to Central Michigan, Johnson is once against receiving praise from Coach Hoke after recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the 2013 season opener, Hayes started the bowl game, and sophomore Derrick Green has shed over 20 lbs. since his freshman year. Hoke has openly stated that Smith had an edge on Green coming out of the spring due to superior pass protection abilities, so that's where I assume things stand right now. Smith seems like a high-effort player who carries out his fakes, blocks physically, and will throw his body around. What he lacks is breakaway speed, a category in which he's behind the likes of Johnson, Green, and Hayes. With a young offensive line, Smith should probably be the choice to get the plurality of carries. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier spread out the carries among multiple backs at Alabama, so I would still expect to see a couple other guys get large chunks of playing time.
Prediction: Starting running back; 150 carries, 700 yards, 8 touchdowns