|Sarasota (FL) Riverview running back Karan Higdon (image via 247Sports.com)|
Higdon is a 5'10", 190 lb. back who claims a 4.5 forty.
ESPN: 3-star, 78 grade, #70 RB
Rivals: 3-star, #45 RB
Scout: 3-star, #84 RB
247 Sports: 4-star, 90 grade, #29 RB
Higdon was not on Michigan's radar heavily until late in the process. Two highly touted running backs - Damien Harris and Michael Weber - had both decommitted from Michigan, and the Wolverines were uncertain in their pursuit of flipping Weber from Ohio State back to Michigan. Late in the process, they extended an offer to Hawkeye commit Higdon. He was offered on January 31, set up a flight for that afternoon, and took an official to Michigan that weekend. He intimated that he was fully committed to Iowa upon return, but that was either a smoke screen or he changed his mind over the last couple days. On Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m., he announced that he would be signing with the Wolverines.
The first thing that sticks out about Higdon is his physicality. Despite being under 200 lbs., he packs a wallop when he runs and does not shy away from contact. He also churns his legs after contact, which helps him break tackles and fall forward. Higdon shows nice vision and cutback ability, and he has the ability to make jump cuts similar to Fitzgerald Toussaint. Higdon also shows patience waiting for the line's blocks to develop, but he hits the hole hard when it opens.
The biggest concern I have with Higdon is his lack of top-end speed. Michigan has had success with backs like him before, like Michael Hart. But I keep waiting for Michigan to recruit a breakaway threat, and it has been a while since the Wolverines have had someone who could take it the distance on any given play. He also takes (and gives) a beating, so you wonder if his body is going to break down from so much punishment.
Ultimately, just like when Brady Hoke was the coach, I think a lot of the running backs in Michigan's stable can be successful because of the way the Wolverines have recruited the offensive line. The development up front was not where it needed to be under the direction of Darrell Funk, but there was some improvement in 2014. There should be even more with a better offensive line coach, more consistent schemes, and more experience in 2015 and beyond. That bodes well for all of the running backs, including Higdon. He has a chance to be a solid running back for the Wolverines, but he's probably not a superstar.
It looks as if Higdon will be the only running back in the 2015 class after Michael Weber went ahead and signed with Ohio State. Michigan will have several juniors at the position in 2015, plus redshirt sophomore Ty Isaac, and now Higdon as a true freshman. His contributions will probably not be needed this coming season, so he should be able to redshirt as long as the group remains mostly healthy. He is the first player to come to Michigan out of Riverview since offensive lineman David Baas in 2000.
TTB Rating: 73 (ratings explanation)