- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
While Greg Mattison might be recognized as the best recruiter among Michigan assistants, it is clear that running backs coach Fred Jackson deserves some recognition, as well.
Not only has he been on the Michigan coaching staff for 20-plus years -- working with Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke -- but given the recruits he was able to bring in for the 2013 class, fans will enjoy a more streamlined run game.
As dazzling as some of Denard Robinson’s jaunts were, Michigan hasn’t really had an up-the-middle, smashmouth run game in the recent past, but Jackson is convinced that with his three 2013 running back signees, the Wolverines will be able to do just that.
Jackson was able to lure the No. 5 running back in the nation and the 2013 class’ most highly ranked recruit to Ann Arbor. Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) chose Michigan over Tennessee and Auburn and could likely be in the mix for the starting spot next season as Fitzgerald Toussaint, whose lackluster junior season ended with a broken leg, won’t even be playing spring ball this season.
Jackson’s other two signees, while not as highly ranked or regarded as Green, are just as impressive for the coach. Wyatt Shallman (Novi, Mich./Detroit Catholic Central) was a local must-have who got hooked on Michigan after watching game tape from the 1970s Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Deveon Smith (Warren, Ohio/Howland) was a big get out of Ohio for the Wolverines, and he brings many of the same attributes as Shallman and Green.
As Michigan moves back into a more standard pro-style offense, there will be more action for its backs, which means these three players -- and Jackson's ability to get them and other players like them to Michigan -- will be key to the Wolverines' success.