Five-star running back Najee Harris may have chosen Alabama over Michigan, but Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines will be just fine without the No. 1 player in the 2017 recruiting class.
As soon as Najee Harris was spotted in Birmingham, Michigan fans kicked the wheels on the five stages of grief.
At first, they didn’t want to believe it. Maybe it was some other 6-foot-3, 225-pound dude who happened to be a Harris doppelgänger.
Some of the Michigan faithful became angry. Some reached the point where they would have done anything to put the 5-star tailback in maize and blue. Others begrudgingly choked down the news that their beloved school had missed out on a potentially program-changing halfback.
At the end of the day, Michigan fans will have to accept it. But there is some silver lining to Harris’ future being in Tuscaloosa, and it’s the fact Jim Harbaugh has set this team up for tremendous success in only two years.
Kareem Walker finally appears to have gotten his legs under himself in the classroom, and with a full offseason to improve, he should receive ample playing time and split carries with Chris Evans next season.
Boom. Right there, off the bat, there are two talented tailbacks ready to tote the rock in Michigan Stadium. Evans showed flashes as a freshman this past season, and Walker impressed during the Wolverines’ practices prior to the Orange Bowl.
Even so, we may not see the same Michigan offense we saw this past season.
The Wolverines ran the ball 574 times this past season, up from 491 rushing attempts the year before. Whereas they threw the ball 370 times compared to 415 attempts in 2015.
There is a legitimate chance Michigan will take to the air more often — especially considering the way the program has recruited in Harbaugh’s young tenure.
With quarterback Brandon Peters, wide receivers Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom, and tight end Devin Asiasi all gearing up for increased roles, offensive coordinator Tim Drevno (and probably Pep Hamilton) should tweak the game plan to favor the air attack.
Let’s not forget the Wolverines are also bringing in 5-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, 4-star quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, 4-star wide receiver Tarik Black and are still a leading contender for 4-star wide receiver Nico Collins, who has been a Michigan lean.
It may sound crazy, but Harbaugh didn’t need to land Harris. He was more of the cherry on top of a 10-scoop sundae. With the weapons the Wolverines are collecting, their offense could seriously evolve into a prolific passing attack, balanced out by a couple of young halfbacks who possess complementary running styles.
Alabama may have gotten Harris. But Michigan is still Michigan, with a top-5 class no less.