Junior running back Karan Higdon had 804 rushing yards through the Nov. 4 contest against Minnesota earlier this season, and was well on his way to the first 1,000-yard campaign in his career.
However, he injured his ankle the following week at Maryland, and was never the same after that.
Now that it’s had some time to heal, Higdon gave an update on his health status.
“The ankle is 100 percent healed up and ready to go,” he revealed. “I was only about 65 or 70 percent in the Ohio State game — it was hard to run on, but the atmosphere that day helped the pain go out the window.”
Fortunately, the junior running back has another three-plus weeks for it to heal even more before the Wolverines step back on the field for the Jan. 1 bowl game against South Carolina.
Hailing from Sarasota, Fla., Higdon had plenty to say not only about playing in his home state, but also about the Gamecocks.
“This game does mean more to me, because I get to go back home and play where I grew up,” he explained. “Family, friends and coaches who don’t get a chance to come to the Big House will finally get to see me.
“I was actually a big fan of South Carolina when I was in high school, so it’s interesting that we’re playing them now. I rooted for them because I had a close friend who went there, along with [former Gamecock wideout] Ace Sanders — he played at Manatee High School [in Florida], so we often faced off against each other.
“I admired what Steve Spurrier was doing there at the time too. I also liked [former South Carolina running back] Marcus Lattimore and the way he ran. I even visited there a few times. They never offered me, though, and now I’m playing against them. I wanted that offer badly — I would have went there if I would have gotten it.”
Michigan and South Carolina actually faced off in the 2013 Outback Bowl as well. South Carolina won that round, 33-28.
One of the aspects that matchup is best known for is the hit Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney put on U-M running back Vincent Smith.
The collision caused Smith’s helmet to fly off, and made highlight reel tapes for months.
“I was cheering when Jadeveon delivered that hit,” Higdon laughed. “But now Vincent and I are cool. He jumped right up after the hit — I think that was the Floridian in him; they never stay down.
“I had actually just visited South Carolina right before that bowl game for their matchup against Florida. I had met Jadeveon when I was there and thought he was the biggest dude ever.”
Higdon obviously won’t get a chance to play against some of the Gamecock players he grew up admiring, but will finally have the opportunity to play in front of friends and family in his home state.