At the moment, Michigan has the No. 6 recruiting class for the 2021 cycle in the country with six commits on offense, but the Wolverines are angling to add an elite running back to the mix.
As an in-state prospect, West Bloomfield (Mich.) four-star Donovan Edwards has long stood as a top target on U-M’s board— and for good reason. Standing at 5-11 and 205 pounds, Edwards ranks as the No. 2 running back in the country and is a top 25 player overall, so the secret has long been out about his premier talent.
All it takes is throwing on Edwards’ junior highlight tape to crack the code on why Edwards is one of the most coveted offensive players in the country. With homerun speed, quick feet, the ability to catch passes out of the backfield and the athleticism to do so against top competition, Edwards looks like a quality bet to end up as a three-down back when he gets to college.
When taking Edwards ability as a pure runner into consideration, the four-star prospect shows patience when picking his running lane but sprints through the line of scrimmage when the opportunity presents itself. Part of what allows Edwards to dance a bit until a hole opens up is his superior vision. This attribute also shows itself when Edwards makes a cut downfield to break into open field.
But as a receiver, Edwards has shown that he is a threat when catching the ball out of the backfield, though West Bloomfield also splits him out wide as a receiver to help stretch the field. When doing so, the speedy athlete can adjust to the football in mid-air, which speaks to his body control and overall athleticism.
Another aspect that is immediately identifiable is that Edwards has plus tackling ability and regularly shakes off defenders to keep his runs alive. Since Edwards is difficult to bring down, this will be a useful skill when he makes it to the next level as every defender is bigger, faster and stronger than his high school counterparts.
As part of his evaluation, 247Sports.com national recruiting analyst Allen Trieu compared Edwards to New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. Over the past couple years, Kamara has electrified fans with his speedy runs, dynamic receptions out of the backfield and impeccable ability to stop on a dime and change direction. Edwards mirrors many of these traits, and they’ve helped him rank as one of the most coveted prospects in the 2021 class.
Trieu expanded on that assessment further in his evaluation.
“Strong, muscular build,” Trieu said. “Compact and has prototypical size. Explosive runner with good burst and can hit the home-run. Will run tough between the tackles. Great pass-catcher who can function as a receiver out of the backfield or in the slot. Good, willing blocker with good strength. Does not have many glaring weaknesses, but can still keep improving timed speed and continue recovery from an injury which ended his sophomore season. He is a complete back who can play in any scheme though, and should be a lead-back early in his college career. Should hear his name called around the second round of the NFL draft.”
As an in-state recruit, Edwards has visited Michigan several times and has built a rapport with U-M offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and running backs coach Jay Harbaugh. However, Michigan is using a team-wide approach to recruit Edwards with five-star quarterback commit J.J. McCarthy as one of the most vocal members of the Wolverines’ recruiting contingent.
According to Edwards’ head coach Ron Bellamy, the four-star recruit was looking forward to visiting a variety of schools during spring football to learn about the coaching staffs and to see how they operate during practice situations. Due to the quarantine, Edwards did not have this opportunity, so his official visit schedule will be important.
With or without a spring football period, though, Michigan has put itself in good position to land Edwards when the time comes.
How would the addition of Edwards change Michigan’s offense right away? Can you see him picking up over 100 carries in his true freshman season? Let us know!