You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

Michigan evaluating running back Mike Cox closely this spring

By Dave Birkett


Michigan running back Michael Cox runs the ball for yardage during the third quarter of the Wolverine's 63-6 win against Delaware State at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.

Melanie Maxwell |

When Avon (Conn.) Old Farms football coach Kevin Driscoll saw Mike Cox over Christmas break, Cox appeared “really psyched” about spring practice.

“He just felt really good about things, and when I’ve seen him before he was kind of down a little bit,” Driscoll said. “He wasn’t sure that he was going to fit in in the Michigan system, they weren’t going to go with big backs. He hung in there and … he’s going to be just great. He’s going to make a huge difference for them.”

A 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore, Cox has his first legitimate chance to crack Michigan’s rotation at running back this spring.

He redshirted two seasons ago and played sparingly last year (13 carries for 113 yards), but is one of three candidates to fill Brandon Minor’s role as big running back.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he’ll evaluate Cox, who was recruited for former coach Lloyd Carr’s system, closely this spring.

“Now is kind of his time,” Rodriguez said. “I think he feels more comfortable now and he’s certainly a guy that we feel is going to hopefully be ready to contribute a lot more this fall.”

Cox hasn’t taken regular carries since his junior year of high school - he broke his ankle early in his senior season - but Driscoll said workload won’t be an issue.

“He’s tough as nails,” Driscoll said. “He’s very tough and they’re going to have a hard time with him because he’s a big guy that’s really fast. That’s the trouble. He’ll hit you, too. He’s not going to back down from anybody.”

Along with Cox, Michigan is auditioning several other replacements for Minor and Carlos Brown, the Wolverines’ top two running backs last year.

Speedster Mike Shaw is the only experienced back taking part in spring practice. Vincent Smith, last year’s No. 3 rusher among running backs, is still recovering from a torn ACL.

Redshirt freshman Fitzgerald Toussaint is expected to be in the playing group next year somewhere, and true freshmen Stephen Hopkins and Austin White are two of seven early enrollees.

“I think we have great depth at that position,” offensive lineman Steve Schilling said. “I think there’s a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things. Shaw’s more of a speed/slasher back. You get guys like Cox and Fitzgerald Toussaint that can pound it a little bit. And we get Vincent back, who was kind of a do-all back, can catch the ball out of the backfield, too. So I’m excited to be able to block for them and I hope they make some big plays for us.”

Briefly will live stream Michigan’s April 17 spring game and the network will carry a replay of the game at 8 p.m. that night. Wisconsin’s spring game also will appear on TV that night (11 p.m.) and live online.

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

"I want to see a return of the old days when Bo had three or four different styles at RB and one of them would usually "crack the code" of the defense...This kind of an attack out of the spread would be extremely difficult to stop." Wasn't too hard to stop 9 out of the 11 Rose Bowls they went to.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

Tru2Blu76: It adds absolutely nothing to the discussion. It's a bad joke playing on the fact that running back Mike Cox has the same name as Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who is running against Snyder for the Republican nomination. I don't really follow football but I like it when U of M wins. I'm from Ann Arbor so I guess I have to. Sounds like people like this guy; I hope he does a good job. Go blue!


Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

I think most people are forgetting about Fitzgerald Toussaint, he made some good impressions last year with the coaching staff, and I would imagine he would do the same this year. He is fast and has great moves, add that to the other couple backs that look good and I think this running backs group could produce quite well!


Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

They may have some depth, but not very much experience. Cox is one of those guys who could give us a huge boost if he can play consistently well. His size is one thing we lack with most of the other guys. In the Big Ten, you MUST have at least one back who is big enough to get the tough inside yards. There are a number of players who must step up their games this year for Michigan to do well. Shaw and Cox are two of them.

Sean T.

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 10:40 p.m.

Mike Cox looks pretty good so far but my bet is he'll share time with Austin White!


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 7:10 p.m.

Sounds good on paper we'll see. I like the variety package coming at ya and a wealth of backs is a good thing. This team is getting hot slowly but surely I'd like to see them break out this year but I think it will be more like getting back on track and next year I think we'll damn sure see what we're made of. RR is filling his positions with what he wants and I think he feels good about what he sees I'm just curious as heck to see him get everything he wants in place and turn it loose on the big 10 better yet when he gets this thing going I can't wait to see a hundred thousand jaws drop in disbelief at this new quick, exciting style he's bringing. Man that'll be worth the price of those overpriced tickets. I think RR is figuring out that he's up North he'll be fine.

Adam Jaskiewicz

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 4:29 p.m.

Well, we'll see. I'm hoping Rick Snyder can pull off a win in the primary.

Terry Star21

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:33 p.m.

Wow.. aren't those uniforms great, if I saw that bright Maize and Blue coming at me I would run and hide - just like the rest of the Big Ten. Maize & Blue uniforms - Great...... Rest of Big Ten - 0.


Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 3:21 p.m.

I can't wait to see Mike Cox ram himself down the throat of Big 10 defenses this year. He has looked very good in practice so far.