Michigan's most recent commitment, tailback Drake Johnson, finished the season with 2,805 yards on the ground and 37 touchdowns on 343 carries (8.2 yards per carry) - his final tally representing the sixth-best single-season effort in Michigan High School history. Our talent evaluator took a look at his senior film ...
Our scout is a former All-Big Ten first-team performer at U-M that prefers to offer his analysis anonymously.
Strengths: The first thing that stands out is his desire to keep the ball moving forward after contact. He has a power-running style and continually shows the ability to drive the pile for a few extra yards. Johnson does a nice job of accelerating through the line of scrimmage with a clear vision of finding a crease when it's there. When the crease isn't there, he lowers his pads and drives his legs. He shows good football discipline. In other words, it's clear that he follows the play as called instead of bouncing the ball outside all the time like many young backs.
Areas of Improvement: He is the featured player in his high school offense so he isn't called on to block that often, if ever. To play in the Michigan backfield, he will be required to stick his nose in the chest of a blitzing linebacker and stop him cold. Based on the film, he should have no problem handling the contact as he certainly doesn't shy away from collisions when he carries the ball.
College Projection: Halfback (In a rotation of speed and power backs).
Michigan Player Comparison - Mike Hart: A taller and longer version. Hart wasn't a lightning fast breakaway back but he still had good speed. He was a master at finding the daylight and hitting the hole. He took all the hits the defenses could dish out, blocked well on passing downs, and always seemed to fall forward for and extra yard or two.
The Bottom Line: Johnson is a great example of what Michigan expects out of its backs. He is a tough runner that enjoys running between the tackles. His pads are pitched forward when he hits the line and he likes to deliver the blow as he plows forward for those extra effort yards. In every football game there comes a time to grind out first downs, take big chunks of time off the clock, and pound the ball for a score; Johnson is the type of back that will help Michigan accomplish those things.
He is also more than just a power runner. He shows good vision and moves by making second- and third-level defenders miss tackles. Running back coach Fred Jackson has a great eye for backs that will meet Michigan standards. Johnson will meet those standards of toughness, grit, and smarts.