As the NCAA continues to hold out on its decision to grant running back transfer Ty Isaac immediate eligibility through a hardship waiver or make him sit out this 2014 season, he’s continuing to eat up reps in the backfield so he can keep learning the offense and, if he’s cleared to play this season, be an impact on the field. But with Michigan‘s lack of production from the running backs, could Isaac’s employment within the offense actually be hurting the Wolverines?
As the days go by and as we inch closer to the start of this season, it seems less and less likely that the NCAA will grant Isaac the hardship waiver, meaning he won’t be an option in 2014. In that case, he’s just another victim of the system, as a I discuss here.
Sophomores Derrick Green and De’veon Smith, as well as redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson, are all in the mix at this point to get the starting nod on Aug. 30 against Appalachian State. Even though Brady Hoke has said Smith and Johnson are basically No. 1 and 1.a at this point, Green isn’t out of the discussion; he has himself in great physical shape and could be a bulldozer coming out of Michigan’s backfield.
There’s obviously a huge risk-reward factor here. If Isaac isn’t cleared to play this season, it will be easy to look back and think of how many extra reps the other running backs could have gotten in place of him. Of course if Isaac is cleared to play, keeping having kept him in the mix the whole time looks like a wise move.
Isaac sat out at the “Under The Lights” scrimmage with a stinger, so we missed a good opportunity to gage his performance with the rest of the backs, but he’ll certainly be competing for reps whenever he’s able to play.
One guy who often gets left out of the conversation when talking about the running backs is senior Justice Hayes. Who knows—maybe Hayes has to step up from time to time this season. Would that really surprise anyone?
Hoke has already come out and said Isaac’s workload in the backfield could change as Michigan begins prepping for the opener, assuming a verdict remains unreached.
So what do you think? Should Isaac’s reps be going elsewhere? Should that have been the case this whole time? Or is Michigan benefiting from him being in the mix with the rest of the guys, despite the uncertainty of his eligibility?