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Friday, January 25, 2013
Sizing up contenders for Derrick Green

By Tom VanHaaren

Running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) has narrowed his choices to Auburn, Michigan and Tennessee for his announcement late Saturday afternoon.

Green is the No. 5 running back in the country and No. 38 overall prospect. He has been a target for several top programs and has been very strategic in trimming his list to this point. A major factor in his thought process is the depth chart at each school and what chance he has of playing early.

WolverineNation takes a look at Green’s finalists, who each school has committed, the depth chart and the current scenario with each of Green’s finalists.

Auburn (3-9, 0-8 in SEC)

Who’s committed: Four-star juco Cameron Artis-Payne

2013 two-deep
Tre Mason, Jr. (171 carries, 1,002 yards, 8 TDs)
Mike Blakely, So.

The scenario: The Tigers fired Gene Chizik and brought in former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. While Malzahn was at AU, running back Michael Dyer set an Auburn freshman rushing record, surpassing Bo Jackson, with 1,093 yards. That could be appealing to Green since he is focused on the depth chart and playing time. The Tigers also recently lost the commitment of four-star Jordan Wilkins after canning Chizik. Green seemed to be very interested in the Tigers before Chizik was fired, too. But the coaching change and Auburn’s poor season can’t be helpful in the Tigers’ efforts to recruit Green. On top of that, sophomore running back Tre Mason had a good season rushing for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns.

Michigan (8-5, 6-2 in Big Ten)

Who’s committed: Four-star Deveon Smith, three-star Wyatt Shallman

2013 two-deep
Fitzgerald Toussaint, Sr. (130 carries, 514 yards, 5 TDs)
Thomas Rawls, Jr. (57 carries, 242 yards, 4 TDs)

The scenario: Michigan's run game problems are well documented, which is why the coaching staff is still targeting Green. Michigan is the most logical choice of the three because Green fits the scheme, and the Wolverines have the most stable coaching situation. Despite having two other running back commitments, the depth chart is favorable for Green as Toussaint is coming off a poor season and a serious injury and no other backs have stepped up as the feature back. That being said, if Green were to pick Michigan that means there will be seven total running backs on the roster to compete with, which is not ideal. Michigan’s leading rusher the past few seasons has been quarterback Denard Robinson, and the transition to a pro-style offense hasn’t proven it will be a success on the ground just yet.

Tennessee (5-7, 1-7 in SEC)

Who’s committed: None

2013 two-deep
Rajion Neal, Sr. (156 carries, 708 yards, 5 TDs)
Marlin Lane, Jr. (120 carries, 658 yards, 2 TDs)

The scenario: New head coach Butch Jones is looking to add a running back to the 2013 class and has pursued Green. It's not likely the new staff has had enough time to build a good relationship with Green and his family, which could be a hindrance. That being said, Jones has had a good track record with running backs. His three seasons with Cincinnati all had a 1,000 yard rusher, with Isaiah Pead and George Winn. The Vols are losing starting quarterback Tyler Bray early to the NFL draft. He passed for 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns, so he’s a huge loss.

Tom’s take: There are a lot of factors here and arguments for each school. Green did name Michigan as his leader a few weeks back, but plenty can change in a short period of time, especially around signing day.

All three schools have made in-home visits, which gave the Green family a chance to get to know both the Tennessee and Auburn coaching staffs a little better.

Michigan just seems to have too many positives in its favor, from coaching stability, depth chart and even an extra recruiter on its side. Michigan offensive line commit David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech) is good friends with Green and has stepped up his recruiting efforts for the Wolverines. Not only is Dawson a draw for Green because they are friends, but he also happens to be an outstanding offensive lineman that Green could use to his advantage in college.

Anything can happen, and Green has done an excellent job keeping everything close to the vest, but it seems as though things add up in Michigan’s favor.