Name: Thomas Rawls
Location: Flint, MI
Ratings: ESPN – 3* (76), Scout – 3*, Rivals 3*
Recruitment: The issue from the very start with Rawls was his academics; his core GPA was OK but his ACT score was low. He knew that Michigan was the school for him, and thus began his quest to become eligible to play college ball. After many months of hard work in the classroom, Rawls announced a few weeks before signing day that he would be qualified for the 2011 season, and subsequently picked up his Michigan offer whilst on campus. Rawls had been a silent commit throughout most of January, but announced it officially one day before NSD.
Offers: Michigan, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and probably some other MAC schools. Wisconsin and Iowa were interested, but scared off by grades and the fact he told them Michigan was the clear leader.
Stats: Currently weighs around 215lbs at 5’10. He runs a 4.5 forty yard dash and has also run sub 11 seconds in the 100m. As a senior Rawls carried the ball 150 times for just under 1600 yards, scoring 21 TD’s in the process.
ESPN Analysis: Rawls should be seeing his recruiting stock rise in the near future. He is a physically imposing back with good downhill attributes. Hits the hole with authority and flashes good downhill burst and momentum. Quick to see and hit the cutback.
He’s an aggressive runner who’s decisive in making cuts; good at running North to South with square shoulder pads. Doesn’t possess real loose hips, but can still redirect sharply and shows good burst out of his cuts. He keeps his legs driving through the hole and breaks a lot of first contact tackles. Shows an extra gear once he gets into the second level to initially pull away from defenders but does not project to have long speed. Breaks tackles and runs hard but we didn’t see the pile pushing runner we expected; competition also seems inferior.
Improvements: Saying he doesn’t have speed to take it the distance is harsh given his superb 100m time; speed is not an issue here. There’s no mention of his blocking here, so I’ll assume that’s something to work on in college; it usually is for RB’s.
Film Highlights: Link here.
Final Thoughts: In the eyes of many analysts Rawls is a highly underrated back, largely due to his academics; which held him back from receiving a lot of good offers. He has that combination of size and speed to be a real asset to Michigan though, especially in this new offense.
A redshirt is probable, mainly because of the number of backs Michigan already has on campus. He would also need some time to adjust to college life academically, make sure he gets on the right path. Unless he really shows up in fall camp, he’ll sit this year out and then be ready to compete next spring.