The last FBS transfer the Michigan Wolverines accepted was quarterback Steven Threet, who left Georgia Tech and went to Ann Arbor before the 2007 season. The lone season he spent playing for the Wolverines wasn’t anything special, and his career sort of diminished at that point.
But now Michigan welcomes another transfer to its team, running back Ty Isaac, who is making the move from USC in order to be closer to his ill mother. Isaac has applied for a hardship waiver which would grant him immediate eligibility. Whether or not the NCAA will grant that request remains a mystery, but if he is allowed to play this 2014 season, watch out; Michigan may have just added a third member to a deadly trio in the backfield.
Sophomore running backs Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith are already in the mix for the Wolverines. Green rushed for 260 yards on 83 carries last season, while Smith pounded out 117 yards on a fraction of the attempts. No, those aren’t numbers that lead you to believe you’re witnessing the play of two great backs, but I’m not quick to blame them for the lack of production. Rather, I blame an offensive line that was quite terrible when it came to opening holes for the ground attack. Those are issues hopefully being resolved by a full offseason with line coach Darrell Funk and new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
The Wolverines are expecting to receive full production from Green and Smith this season as they each head into their second year of action at this level. The same goes for Isaac, who rushed for 236 yards and two touchdowns last season with the Trojans. Having all three of these talented backs at full production would mean great things for a Michigan offense that desperately needs to take a little pressure off quarterback Devin Gardner. One reason I think this three-back system could work has nothing to do with the players themselves, but more so the staff
Had all of this taken place last summer, it’s difficult to imagine former offensive coordinator Al Borges attempting to utilize a three-back system. He was very set on finding a feature back for his offense. I don’t think the chance would have even been there. Nussmeier, on the other hand, will not squander this wonderful opportunity to perhaps field one of the best running back units in the Big 10 this season and, because all three are only sophomores, a few more years to come.
The potential is certainly there; we’re talking about a very talented group of athletes who can both pop the pads and break loose on the run. Michigan could very well have just gained the third member to its triple-headed monster in the backfield. For now, we await the NCAA’s decision regarding Isaac’s eligibility. Looking forward, though, the lights are shining brightly.