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Michigan Football: Karan Higdon Says Jim Harbaugh Has Been More Personal

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Michigan senior running back Karan Higdon led the team in rushing last season.
Lon Horwedel

There have been a lot of changes to the Michigan football program since the team’s loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. New coaches, new strength staff, new players — but one change has stood out more than the rest to U-M senior running back Karan Higdon.

Jim Harbaugh.

On the surface, it would seem nothing is different with Michigan’s head coach, but that’s because Harbaugh’s changes have come more on the inside and behind closed doors.

Higdon says that after the team’s bowl game loss, Harbaugh came to the team and simply asked what he needed to do differently. What did he need to change?

Players gave him feedback, which Higdon opted not to disclose, but the changes have been noticeable.

“He’s been more personal with the guys and more approachable, and that’s definitely been helping,” Higdon said. “Coach is a football guru, and he’s been so focused on the game. Taking a step back from that and continuing to build stronger relationships with the players, changed our culture and changed the atmosphere around this facility.”

He added that it’s not often you see a coach open up to the team the way Harbaugh did, and that “sometimes, he just wants a hug.”

One of Higdon’s goals for this upcoming season is to be named the team’s offensive captain, and is learning from Harbaugh how to become a better leader.

He wants to be “contagious” just like Harbaugh is. This spring, Higdon is being more vocal, leading by example and focusing more on his teammates and not just himself like he did last year.

“I was making sure I was at my best, so I could give the offense my best,” Higdon said. “This year, along with that, I’ve been able to find a balance with doing that for myself and the guys around me. I know the game more, and when you know the game you can help more.”

Michigan’s leading rusher in 2017, Higdon is again expected to lead the backfield in carries. He explored leaving early for the NFL and got feedback from the league, before ultimately deciding to return to U-M.

He’s been working on pass protection and has grown closer with junior running back Chris Evans this spring.

“We compete a lot, and compete at a high level against each other, but we’ve been able to push and learn from each other,” Higdon said. “We keep each other going, keep each other motivated and make sure whoever is on the field at whatever time will succeed.”

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