The Michigan running back position didn't receive very much good news this
past spring. It started with the revelation that Mike Hart was going
to miss the entire four-week session after undergoing reparative shoulder surgery. Shortly
after practice started, Carlos Brown (who had previously switched from running
back to cornerback) announced that he was contemplating transferring. The
significance of that development increased when junior tailback Kevin Grady
tore his ACL a few weeks before drills concluded.
One bright spot amidst all of the unlucky happenings was the performance of
Brandon Minor. The former Richmond Varina star had an encouraging freshman
campaign, finishing second on the team in rushing with 42 carries for 238 yards
(5.7 avg.) and two touchdowns, both of which were scored from forty yards out. Like
most first year players, Minor was chomping at the bit to get early playing
time. However, when the time came for his first carry of his career
in front of 110,000 people in the Vanderbilt game… he did get a little
nervous. Ultimately, he wound up handling the pressure quite well, rumbling
for 24 yards on his first run from scrimmage.
"I embraced (the pressure) because that's what I'm here for," Minor
said matter-of-factly. "But everybody gets butterflies. I
never had doubts. It was just nerves."
Learning to handle an increased amount pressure early in his career was great
preparation for the spring. He didn't know it when practice started,
but a much bigger load was about to be put on his shoulders.
"(Kevin Grady's injury) kind of put pressure on me because after that
happened coach was like, 'you're going to have to really step it up,' " recalled
Minor. "It meant more reps for me. He said I had crack down
on my plays and I was going to have learn and do everything."
Fortunately for the Wolverines, the 6-0 210-pounder was up to the task
"I think Brandon Minor had an excellent spring," said Michigan
headman Lloyd Carr. "He's much more confident because he's been
around, and he got a lot of work."
There was one area of Minor's game that really needed improvement, and it
had nothing to do with running or catching. He knew better than anyone
what he had to work on.
"Pass protection was the main thing," Minor admitted. "There's
a lot to it. A whole lot to it."
According to offensive coordinator Mike Debord, Minor is figuring it out. The
sophomore-to-be made significant progress as a blocker.
“He got a lot better and improved his pass protection," Debord
said. "He had a great spring running the ball. But I think
the biggest thing is he really improved his pass protection.”
At this point Minor is looking ahead for what he hopes will be a big summer.
More work on his blocking and pass catching ability will hopefully pave the
way for more playing time in the fall. He also looks forward to having
some help in the backfield again. Not only will Hart be there to handle
his customary share of the load, but Carlos Brown is reportedly set to return
to the running back ranks as well.
"It takes some pressure off of me," Minor said laughing.
Another thing that will make the summer a bit more fun will be the presence
familiar face from high school. His former prep teammate Marrell Evans
will be joining him in Ann Arbor in a few months to begin his Wolverine career.
"I can't wait he gets up here so he can start working with us in the
summer time," minor said of Evans. "It's going to be nice to
have him here. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do."