Michigan Football: Does Derrick Green Give Wolverines Top Backfield in B1G?

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIJanuary 27, 2013

Derrick Green is headed to Michigan. (Photo via the Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Derrick Green is headed to Michigan. (Photo via the Richmond Times-Dispatch)

If his debut with the Michigan Wolverines is anything like his press conference, then Derrick Green should hit the field in style for coach Brady Hoke. 

Green, the nation's No. 1-ranked running back of the 2013 class, committed Saturday to Michigan during a presser at Hermitage High (Va.), the school he helped achieve a 10-1 record in 2012 by averaging close to 13 yards per tote. 

Sitting behind a table on stage, Green had Michigan, Auburn and Tennessee hats—to represent his final three choices—placed in front of him. As the presser continued, Green stood up, then grabbed a Michigan hat placed to his right, put it back down on the table, and then reached for a Tennessee hat that was to his left.

The suspense. The drama. 

But that was just the beginning. 

Green then made his way to the back corner of the room, hitting a switch that activated a drop cloth that revealed where he would play college football. As the cloth lifted, a blue jersey appeared. 

That jersey was a Michigan jersey, complete with No. 27 and the name "Green" across the back shoulders. 

Now that he's officially a "Michigan Man," the time to predict his contributions to the program starts now. Granted, those speculations were made prior to his commitment, but he's one step closer to being signed, sealed and delivered (it'll be set in stone on national signing day, Feb. 6). 

Let the mayhem ensue. 

Green's entry to Michigan begs one question to be answered: Do the Wolverines now possess the Big Ten's top backfield? 

Take a moment to mull over the list of departing stars like Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell, Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Nebraska's Rex Burkhead, a trio of the league's standouts that are bound for the next phase of their careers. 

Now, give this a thought: Michigan could have a foursome unlike any other in the Big Ten, starting with a healthy Fitz Toussaint, a former 1,000-yard rusher in 2011; will-be junior Thomas Rawls, an incredibly talented downhill runner and third-down specialist; and Justice Hayes, a player that can juke his way out of a phone booth. 

Add in will-be freshman Deveon Smith, perhaps an underrated 3-star recruit, and Michigan's stable of running backs looks all the more threatening. 

Don't forget about that Green kid, either. He's important. 

Comparing Big Ten's Best Backfields to Michigan's (Basically OSU vs. UM)

Ohio State has quarterback Braxton Miller, a will-be junior with a set of wheels that complement his respectable arm. Miller rushed for 1,271 yards in 2012 and gives the Buckeyes the same type of threat that Denard Robinson (1,266 yards) gave the Wolverines.

Both led their teams in rushing this past season, too. 

But let's subtract Miller and Robinson from the equation; they're not running backs, and Robinson is finished at Michigan.

As of now, Ohio State will have Carlos Hyde's services this fall. He rushed for 917 yards in 2012, good for the Big Ten's sixth-best average of 97 per game. The will-be senior is one of the league's elite, and he'll get more help once 4-star prospect Ezekiel Elliott joins the Buckeyes.

At 6'0" and 198 pounds, Elliott certainly has the build to be a solid ball-carrier in the physical Big Ten. According to Rivals.com, he's the country's 12th-best tailback of the 2013 class. 

And he runs a 4.42-second 40-yard dash. Not bad. Not bad at all. 

Rod Smith, a former 4-star rated recruit, is a bruising 6'3", 230-pound soon-to-be junior. He outweighs Derrick Green by 10 pounds and is three inches taller. That being said, it's quite obvious that the Wolverines aren't the only kids on the block with a tank-like force capable of moving the sticks.

Smith averaged 6.7 yards per touch in 2012, a clip that highlighted his grand total of 215 on 32 carries. 

Now let's shift to Michigan. 

The Wolverines benefited by having Thomas Rawls in the mix this past fall. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry on third down, a measurement skewed by a 63-yard touchdown. However, that doesn't diminish his value when push comes to shove. At 5'10" and approximately 215 pounds, Rawls provides size and durability. 

He was once thought to be Michigan's best option for the No. 1 job.

Now that Green is on his way to Ann Arbor, Rawls could be the second or third option, depending on the progress of will-be junior Justice Hayes and true freshman Deveon Smith. 

Fitz Toussaint's status for the 2013 season isn't 100 percent certain. The horrific leg injury suffered against Iowa could keep him shelved until 2014. If consistent, he'd give Michigan a big-play threat. But for now, let's keep him on the back burner; it's uncertain if he'll return fully healthy this fall. 

One 5-star recruit doesn't automatically give Michigan an advantage over Ohio State, nor does it guarantee ground supremacy in the Big Ten. However, landing Green definitely affords some type of upper hand for offensive coordinator Al Borges, who will no longer have to rely on a sprite quarterback to advance the ground game.

That's a leg up over Ohio State, which will likely have Miller take on the majority of rushing duties in 2013. 

So much talent, so much to debate. Leave a comment explaining why you feel Michigan does or doesn't have the best backfield in the Big Ten.  

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.


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