The Wolverine

January 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2021   COMMITMENT PROFILE M ichigan scored perhaps its big- gest win of the recruiting cycle when Rivals100 West Bloomfield (Mich.) High running back Donovan Edwards signed with Michigan over finalists Georgia, Notre Dame and Oklahoma on National Signing Day during a live broadcast on ESPN. For Edwards, the No. 3 running back and No. 74 overall recruit na- tionally per, the decision came down to feeling at home. "I could be a hometown hero and put on for my city," Edwards said. "I can stay home. They are putting together a great 2021 class. They had a great 2020 class on defense. It's all right there for me at Michigan." Edwards was considered a Mich- igan lean for months, but Georgia gained plenty of buzz leading up to signing day. Oklahoma was always a constant, while Notre Dame did everything it could to convince him to play in South Bend. By the time National Signing Day arrived, the decision was already made. Edwards made up his mind more than a week prior to Dec. 16. "I just felt the program was the best fit for me, and we want to be the ones to turn it around," Edwards said. "I feel like I'll fit in very well. All I need is an opportunity to com- pete and show the reason I feel as though I'm the best out there." Edwards showed minimal con- cern about stability questions sur- rounding Michigan. According to West Bloomfield head coach and ex- Wolverine Ron Bellamy, that alone speaks volumes about the job Jim Harbaugh and his staff did recruiting and prioritizing Edwards. "By some of the choices that he had, you can tell he's a highly coveted kid," Bellamy said. "But he decided to stay home. And with all the uncertainty, it speaks volumes about the University of Michigan and about the University of Michigan football program. "He has a great relationship with Coach Harbaugh — Jim and Jay, both of them — and he just wanted to keep his talents in state. He wants to leave his legacy here as one of the greatest to ever play in the state of Michigan — high school and college." So what exactly was Jim Harbaugh able to sell Edwards on? "I don't think he sold me on any- thing, necessarily," Edwards said. "I can say that the competitive nature Harbaugh brings to the table, that's the kind of competitive nature I need as a coach." And Edwards is definitely ready to compete. An early enrollee, he believes he can make an immediate impact in Ann Arbor despite a bit of a crowded backfield. "They have four talented running backs right now," Edwards said. "They all have different skill sets, so it's kind of hard to utilize that and get all four in the games. One person hasn't stood out. [Redshirt sopho- more] Hassan Haskins had a dog game at the end of the season [when he eclipsed 100 yards and scored two touchdowns versus Penn State]. "I feel like they need me more. I feel like I can be an every-down guy there." Edwards had a monster senior campaign, rushing for 1,021 yards and scoring 20 total touchdowns in just nine games, and led West Bloom- field on a deep playoff run before the state of Michigan shut down the postseason. A powerful back with speed and an ability to make plays in the re- ceiving game, Edwards is the total package at the position, according to Bellamy. "They see a warrior," the coach said. "They see a competitor. They see a kid that wants it. From day one, he's going to push that running back room. He's going to make that run- ning back room better." Edwards is the second running back in Michigan's 2021 recruiting class, joining three-star Austin (Texas) Del Valle product Tavierre Dunlap. — EJ Holland Edwards, the nation's No. 3 running back per, rushed for 1,021 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns in just nine games during his senior year. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND Running Back Donovan Edwards Stayed Home On Signing Day PLAYER EVALUATION Strengths: Donovan Edwards is an extremely hard worker that took the next step in his game from junior to senior year, improving his strength, speed and explosiveness. At 5-11 and 193 pounds, he is a bigger back with a ton of power. The four-star prospect would rather run through you than around you and has a hellacious stiff arm. He is at his best between the tackles and is masterful at hitting the hole hard and picking up chunk yards. But he's not all power. Edwards also has pop. He has adequate speed and enough explosion to bust loose for long runs, especially after wear- ing out opposing defenses. He is also a plus receiver. Weaknesses: Edwards can con- tinue to improve his speed, but the area he may need to work on most is his quickness. He doesn't necessarily have the burst to make jump cuts or wiggle to make defenders miss in the open field. His feet and balance are okay but could be better, and while his vision improved as a senior it also needs to continue to get better, especially with cutback lanes. Michigan Player Comparison: Ed- wards doesn't really resemble anyone on the U-M roster right now. The Wol- verines had issues with their backs because each does something really well, but none check all the boxes. He is a true three-down back that could turn into a bell cow and solve those problems for the Wolverines. If looking for a former Michigan player, Mike Hart comes to mind. Like Hart, Edwards has a compact build with power and a knack for moving the chains. He should see the field as a true freshman. — EJ Holland

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