The Wolverine

2021 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2021 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 63 it. He loves the physicality of running it and just dominating people. He's definitely about that part of the game." Rugged And Ready Haskins doesn't shy from defenders, or the belt-you-into-next-week nature of the Big Ten. At a solid 6-1, 220, he's built for it, and assures he's not the least bit contact averse. "You can't be. This is football," Haskins noted. "It's a contact sport. I definitely love contact, running people over." That sort of talk brings a smile to Hart's face, just like actually executing some bully ball as an offensive player brings a smile to Haskins. "Most definitely," he acknowledged. "I know, in my mind, that I overpowered the man. That gives me satisfaction that I did something to help my team." He recalled one classic example of going on the attack while carrying the football. "We were playing Indiana, and I was run- ning to the sideline," Haskins recalled. "It was a corner who tried to go down low. I just ran him right over. It was ridiculous — definitely a big hit, I'll tell you that." Haskins has been a big enough hit the past two seasons — just three yards shy of 1,000 in his career — to emerge from spring ball as Michigan's clear No. 1 tailback. He led the Wolverines with 375 rushing yards in last fall's six-game slate, posting six touchdowns. He carries the potential — given a stron- ger overall team, an improving offensive line and some breaks — of putting a 1,000-yard season on the board for the Wolverines. He doesn't shy away from that idea, either. "That's definitely a goal," he said. "I al- ways want to get up there and be one of the best. But whatever happens, happens. They're just going to see this year." While others see him as the feature back, Haskins isn't the slightest bit boastful about his position on the team, heading into his fourth season as a Wolverine. On the contrary, he speaks easily about the running backs room, and what it hopes to achieve as a group. Head coach Jim Harbaugh noted Haskins and second-year freshman back Blake Corum should see the lion's share of the carries out of the gate. Haskins insists he's ready for whatever comes his way. "I feel I've got a little advantage, but we've still got Blake and the two freshmen [Dono- van Edwards and Tavierre Dunlap]," Haskins pointed out. "We're going to do our thing out there and produce, and help the team win. Whatever happens, happens. I'm in it for the team win. "We've got some great backs. I want to see all my guys eat." For Corum, Haskins noted, that involves fast food. "Blake definitely smokes 'em," Haskins raved. "He's one fast dude — I'm not going to lie to you. He's got some speed on him. He brings it in that aspect. "Donovan has got that burst, too. He knows what he's doing. He's a football player." Dunlap is learning and getting better every day, Haskins assured. Regardless of who is carrying the ball, they'll be relying on the offensive line to open up some holes for them to run through. Haskins is convinced that won't be an issue in 2021. He's seen enough to appreciate the devel- opment among the buffet crew. He expects his guys to eat, because Michigan's offensive linemen have been strong consumers in that department. "They've been doing their thing," Haskins said. "They've been working. They've been doing a lot to get better, and learning every- thing. They're definitely helping me and I'm definitely helping them. It's going to be a good one." On The Rise, Team-Wise And Otherwise One of the greatest — and most comfort- ing — observations Hart delivered in the early going involved Haskins not trying to stray from what he does best. The new position coach cre- ated a comfort zone for Haskins by letting him In the last two seasons combined, Haskins has carried 182 times for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns, aver- aging 5.5 yards per rushing attempt. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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