|Drake Johnson tore his ACL on this third quarter TD run against Ohio State|
Weight: 207 lbs.
High school: Ann Arbor (MI) Pioneer
Position: Running back
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #29
Last year: I ranked Johnson #59 and said he would be a backup running back and special teamer. He made two starts and had 60 carries for 361 yards (6.0 yards/carry) and 4 touchdowns.
Johnson had a bit of a breakout season in 2014. Expected to be a third-stringer or lower, he finished the season as Michigan's top back and had the highest yards per carry average of anyone with double-digit rushing attempts. Over the first eight games, Johnson had a total of 5 carries. His first shot at significant playing time came in game nine, a few weeks after starter Derrick Green broke his collarbone. Johnson ran 16 times for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns against Indiana, came back to Earth against Northwestern, and then played well against Maryland (94 yards) and Ohio State (74 yards, 2 touchdowns) to finish the year. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL for a second time in the season-ending loss to the Buckeyes.
The future was looking bright for Johnson, but now things are a little hazy. He showed good speed and vision over the last few games, but he was clearly not the coaches' first option. He has now torn his ACL in consecutive years (the first time was in the 2013 season opener). He missed the entire spring with the new staff. And Jim Harbaugh has a history of playing running backs who are a little thicker and sturdier than Johnson. I would probably place Johnson higher on the list if he had remained healthy, but the ACL tear means he will probably miss some time this fall, and he will probably not be anywhere close to 100%, at least to begin the year. We might see another late-season push as he regains strength and confidence in his knee, but for now, there will be other backs higher in the pecking order.
Prediction: Backup running back