The Wolverine

March 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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78 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2022   COMMITMENT PROFILE C ole Cabana isn't afraid to admit it. The three-star running back from Dexter (Mich.) High grew up just 15 min- utes from the University of Michigan. But instead of rooting for the hometown Wol- verines, Cabana cheered on their bitter rival — the Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State instantly became the favorite when Cabana, whose father, Mike, was a former walk-on running back for the Spartans, started popping up on re- cruiting radars. However, Cabana never let his fandom affect his search for the best fit on and off the field. "I grew up a State fan," Cabana said. "Once recruiting started, I had to drop that and focus on what's best for me." After making several visits to both Michigan and Michigan State, he ulti- mately felt that the team he grew up loving didn't make the most sense for his col- legiate future. Instead, Cabana, the No. 32-ranked running back and No. 437 overall prospect nationally, per the On3 Consensus, fell in love with the team on the other side of the rivalry and gave Michigan a ver- bal commitment to kick off the month of February. "I committed because I have a great re- lationship with the entire coaching staff, especially Mike Hart," Cabana said. "I know that's the place I'm going to have the most opportunities and hopefully make it to the next level. Ever since I first visited, I could see myself playing there. As I got more offers, nothing really com- pared to Michigan." And at least one family member was ecstatic with the decision. Cabana's mother, Holly, grew up in a family full of Michigan fans. When she found out that Cabana wanted to spurn the Spartans in favor of the Wolverines, she was elated but also happy that her son found the right fit. "I grew up being a U-M fan," Holly said. "My whole family loves the University of Michigan. More than anything, we just really want Cole to be where he's sup- posed to be. And he loves what he's doing, so we're thrilled." Like Cabana mentioned, Hart played a huge role in his recruitment. Just 48 hours after helping lead the Wolverines to a win over Iowa in the Big Ten title game, Hart was at Dexter visiting with Cabana and his high school coaching staff. Hart made the in-state prospect a top priority and built a strong bond with him. "Mike Hart is a great guy to be around," Cabana said. "One of the things that sticks out right away is he's really straightforward. He wouldn't lie to you. He seems like a good coach. You look at the running backs from this past offsea- son, and they all did amazing." Holly was also quick to give the assis- tant credit for the job Hart did recruiting Cabana, especially during a time of un- certainty with head coach Jim Harbaugh exploring NFL options. "We have a lot of confidence in Mike Hart," she said. "Cole and Coach Hart have bonded, and I think they're going to be a good duo. Cole is ready to put the work in." Cabana has already drawn comparisons to NFL superstar Christian McCaffrey, thanks to his 4.34 40 time and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. In nine games played as a junior, he racked up 2,187 all-purpose yards, including 1,688 yards on the ground, and 28 touchdowns. Michigan plans to use his skill set in an array of ways. "I like the way they plan on using me," Cabana said. "They like me in the back- field, in the slot and special teams. It will kind of be like Donovan Edwards and Blake Corum. They plan to put a little bit of weight on me once I get there. I'm en- rolling early, so that will help." — EJ Holland Wolverines Swayed Cole Cabana Away From Michigan State Fandom Cabana grew up cheering for Michigan State, where his father was a walk-on running back. However, he never let his fandom affect his college search, and he sided with the Wolverines Feb. 5. PHOTO BY ANTHONY BROOME PLAYER EVALUATION Strengths: Cabana is an electric player with the ball in his hands. The first thing that pops out about his game is his speed. Cabana recently clocked a 4.34 40 at a local camp in Detroit and also ran a 10.69 in the 100 meters as a sophomore. A slasher between the tackles with home-run speed that will more than likely score once he gets past the first level. Difficult to contain on runs to the outside. A plus catcher that can also line up in the slot. Extremely elusive in the open field. Areas Of Improvement: At 5-11, 170 pounds, Cabana will need to develop in Michigan's strength and conditioning program, and add weight to his slender frame. Along with that, he will need to get stronger and build up more muscle mass in order to hold up as a true running back in the Big Ten. Plays extremely subpar competition at the high school level, so will have to adapt to much faster defenses. Michigan Player Comparison: While Cabana is being recruited as a running back, he brings a similar skill set as Michigan wide receiver AJ Henning. Like Henning, Ca- bana can line up in the backfield, in the slot and contribute as a return man on special teams. Henning played running back at the high school level and was known for his speed and explosiveness before transitioning to more of a hybrid wide receiver role at U-M. Cabana could follow a similar path. — EJ Holland

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