This is the third of a regular installment where I break down a member of Michigan football’s 2018 recruiting class, starting with worst-ranked and going all the way to the top. If you’re a Michigan football fan, these guys are going to be a big part of your life for the next few years–get to know them!
High School: Eureka Senior High School, Eureka, Missouri
Weight: Listed between 202 and 210
Rivals: 3-star RB
ESPN: 3-star RB
247: 3-star, #70 RB, #1095 overall
247 Composite: 3-star, #49 RB, #978 overall
Hassan Haskins was getting attention from FCS and mid-major FBS teams (including Purdue, a glorified mid-major) when Michigan started sniffing around in October. His only official visit was to Michigan for the Rutgers game on Oct. 28 and he committed a day later, signing during the early-signing period in December. Jay Harbaugh was listed as his main recruiter. No other big-time teams seemed to have any interest in him.
Haskins’s high school stats are prolific. The guy racked up 50 touchdowns and 3,706 yards combined in his junior and senior years. Just looking at 2017 he had 2,197 yards and 31 scores, plus, he won Missouri’s Class 6 Offensive Player of the Year.
Is he the world-beating RB the numbers suggest, or a depth option that a thin offer list and Class 6 suggest? Let’s eat some tape.
Two things stand out right away: Hitting the hole and making cuts. If there’s a hole in the line, Haskins finds it and hits it hard, provided he’s got a few steps to conjure a full head of steam. He often cuts into the hole, which could have been how the plays were set up, but either way it leaves linebackers guessing where to find him and often guessing wrong. Once in the open field Haskins relies on more decisive cuts to extend runs. His vision and instincts are above average–it takes a lot of anticipation to time those cuts just right and maximize yardage. You won’t see him juke anyone. He’s your prototypical cut-and-go runner. Nothing fancy, just effective.
When defenders get a hand on Haskins, it often doesn’t go well for the defender. 20 of the 50 plays in his senior highlights feature Haskins breaking a tackle of some kind, and about 30% of the above plays show at least one defender melting off him. Tell me you don’t see some De’Veon Smith against BYU in 2015 (the legendary teleportation play) at 5:55.
He successfully stiff arms on four plays, which I’m surprised we don’t see more of with his plus strength, but coaches can optimize that by working on freeing up his hand on the side of him that tacklers are approaching, hopefully without causing a case of fumblitis. Haskins’s skill-set lends itself to a lot of goal-line runs, and I suspect the Wolverines will use him in the same way once he’s an upperclassman.
Many of the linebackers Haskins destroys look like middle schoolers compared to him, and how well Haskins adjusts to bigger tacklers will define his career at Michigan.
So how was this guy only a three-star with unimpressive offers? Well, his 247 profile lists a 40-yard dash time of 4.74 seconds, relatively slow, and it shows. Haskins only outraces tacklers maybe four times out of 50 and is caught from behind a lot. He shows elusiveness on only 10% of his highlights. The second half of the above reel includes a few nice spin moves, but that’s it on a relatively long highlight tape.
Another concern is how erect he runs. As soon as the ball is snapped he raises right up. That type of problem is exactly what coaches are for, plus, it seems to work for him, at least in high school, hardly costing him any yardage.
It would have been nice to see some pass-blocking, especially considering how bad the Wolverines are at that right now, but most high school RBs don’t have any of that in a highlight reel, and Haskins’s strength suggests that if he knows who to block, he’ll be able to hold up to that physically. Again, that’s what coaches are for.
Tell Me The Future
Michigan has eight scholarship RBs on the roster right now, with four of those at least a year ahead of Haskins in terms of eligibility, so, physically college-ready or not, he should definitely redshirt this year. Fellow 2018 RB Christian Turner was more highly ranked than Haskins, as well as 2018 ATH Michael Barrett, who will probably end up at RB. Even if those guys are talented, I still think there’s a chance they too could end up redshirting because of the crowded roster.
This season and next are easily covered by Karan Higdon and Chris Evans. After that the assumption is that Kareem Walker (depending on his status with the team) and O’Maury Samuels will hold things down. Then Kurt Taylor, a pretty poorly-ranked redshirt from last year, will be the only senior if Turner and Barrett both redshirt with Haskins. Who comes out of that pile to get carries for a year or two is anyone’s guess, but disregarding Taylor, Haskins was the worst-ranked recruit.
Long story short: Check back in two years when six guys will be competing for basically two spots, then in three years when four guys plus any RBs from the 2019 class will be competing for two spots. Really going out on a limb, I’d say Haskins has about a 50/50 chance to ever get meaningful carries with the Wolverines. Such is life at the bottom of a disappointing class (When will I stop saying that?).
Other suitors: No one else seemed to be a serious threat, unless you want to count Purdue.
Other Lounge appearances: I couldn’t find any, welcome!
Previous competition: While the St. Louis area is starting to produce more top-end talent, Haskins only played against maybe a dozen guys all season that wound up or will end up on major conference teams. It’s St. Louis, so he opposed a handful of Missouri commits, a couple Minnesota, one Purdue, and then the team Haskins lost to in the playoffs had an Ohio State WR commit. It’s not great competition, especially on the defensive side. You can see it in the film, and it held down Haskins’s ranking. His team cleans up at that level, though: https://twitter.com/_Johner_/status/962863510731591680