After 64 touches in a two-week span, one might expect Hassan Haskins to be sore. But when the Michigan football team’s senior running back stood behind the podium at Schembechler Hall on Tuesday, he laughed off the notion of soreness altogether.
“Most definitely, I’m a workhorse,” Haskins said. “I’m going to get it done.”
Known by his teammates as a man of few words, Haskins likes to let his performance do the talking. Since sophomore running back Blake Corum went down with a lower-body injury early in the Wolverines’ 29-7 win over Indiana on Nov. 6, Michigan has added a lot to Haskins’s plate.
And the St. Louis native has answered the call, amassing 389 total yards since Corum’s injury.
“He’s just got a quality about him where he wants to and will take the team on his back,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the Wolverines’ 21-17 win at Penn State on Saturday. “That’s his mindset. That’s what he did. Over 100 yards rushing in the second half and 150 or so for the day. Obviously, they’re keying on Hassan.”
At times this season, Haskins has churned his legs to single-handedly push piles forward by 10-plus yards. On other occasions, he’s found himself on SportsCenter hurdling would-be tacklers. But most often, he’s made the best of what’s available between the tackles and finds ways to always fall forward.
That extra effort doesn’t go unnoticed.
“We have a lot of amazing athletes across the board, and he’s one of those guys who just fuels you to play better and just fuels your energy in the game,” sophomore defensive lineman Kris Jenkins said Tuesday. “Watching him play, watching him make all these amazing plays, it’s like, ‘Wow, man, he really just did that. We’ve got to go play better for him.’ ”
Part of what makes Haskins a workhorse is his versatility. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, he’s always had the size to play a physical brand of football, excelling at gaining tough yards and pass-blocking. Now, with the “lightning” part of the running back duo sidelined, the “thunder” has had to adapt, showing growth as a receiver out of the backfield.
Prior to Michigan’s trip to State College, Haskins had just six receptions all season. But when junior quarterback Cade McNamara needed an option out of the backfield on Saturday, he didn’t hesitate to look Haskins’ way. Haskins finished with five catches, two more than his previous career-high of three.
“I think you can talk about every part of Hassan Haskins’s game and refer to it as excellent, outstanding,” Harbaugh said. “Every single phase. … I know he’s really good. Pass protection (is) outstanding. Catching the ball out of the backfield, that’s a real strength of his. Running with the ball after the catch is one that we’re going to keep using more and more, because it’s effective. Just getting the ball into his hands, or when the ball isn’t in his hands, he’s a blocker and he’s extremely good at that.
“My feeling after the game is that Hassan is the type of player that wants to and has the will and the ability to put the team on his back.”
Until Corum’s return, expect Haskins to keep doing exactly that. After all, it doesn’t even make him sore.