It would appear that freshman Mike Hart has solidified his spot
in Michigan’s backfield for the foreseeable future.

Michigan Football
Kevin Grady (AP PHOTO)

But Hart might want to save some room at running back for Kevin
Grady.

Because Grady, a senior at East Grand Rapids High School, has
spent the last four years rewriting the record books for the state
of Michigan, and will soon be wearing the Maize and Blue.

The 5-foot-11, 225-pound bruiser has used his senior season to
set the Michigan state marks for career rushing attempts (1,118),
points scored (918), touchdowns (150), consecutive games over 100
yards (24) and rushing yards. That last record stands as
Grady’s most impressive — through the district final
playoff game on Nov. 5, Grady has 8,287 yards in his career, good
enough to blow by the prior record of 7,813 yards.

Still not impressed?

In that district final — an East Grand Rapids win —
Grady ran for 384 yards and four touchdowns, while also playing
linebacker and returning kicks.

“We’ve said if we’re going to go down,
we’re going to go down swinging and giving it to the big
horse,” East Grand Rapids coach Peter Stuursma said.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever been around,
absolutely.”

Michigan started heavily recruiting Grady while he was a
freshman at East Grand Rapids, and he committed in his junior
season — a season in which he was named the EA Sports
National Junior Player of the Year. In 2003, he posted eye-popping
numbers that included 2,507 yards and 43 touchdowns.

Grady has kept on rolling this year, cruising over 2,000 yards
— with 2,221 yards so far— for the third straight
season to set the career rushing record.

“It wasn’t really my biggest thing to go into the
season thinking that I had to get the record,” Grady said.
“Winning is more important to me.”

What’s most important for Michigan is that Grady has
proven to be virtually unstoppable during his career, making
undersized defender after undersized defender look like a deer in
the headlights.

In fact, Grady has a hard time remembering a single play —
not one — in his four years of high school ball where a
defender drove him back on a tackle.

“Maybe my freshman year against Catholic (Central),”
Grady said. “I try to run forward, leaning forward, so when I
do get hit, I fall forward. That’s a good quality for any
back to have, being able to fall forward and get that extra yard
that you need.”

That particular trait is something that Michigan fans have come
to love in Hart. And in light of Hart’s spectacular —
and unexpected — year running the ball for Michigan, one
might expect Grady to redshirt. But the top-10 national recruit has
no such thoughts. As a matter of fact, Grady is graduating from
East Grand Rapids in December, so he can begin classes at Michigan
and practice with the Wolverines in the spring — something
former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett did prior to a huge
freshman season, but an activity that’s exceptionally
rare.

“It was something that I wanted to do, and the coaches
thought it was a good idea that I come down and get the early
jump,” said Grady of his premature graduation.
“I’d like to come in and play, but if it works out that
I have to sit behind Mike, then so be it.”

Stuursma, for one, believes that Grady has so much working in
his favor that he has a chance to play — and not just
because of Grady’s obvious abilities on the gridiron.

“What do they want at the University of Michigan? They
want a kid that’s a team player — done,” Stuursma
said. “They want a kid that’s going to work extremely
hard — done. They want a kid that’s going to compete
— done. They’ve got those things. They want an
intelligent football player — they have that.

“What Kevin has to do is worry about things that he can
control because (Michigan brings) in Kevin Gradys every year. But
with the things he has going for him, I’d put my eggs in his
basket.”

Stuursma, who calls Grady a “miniature Earl
Campbell,” also didn’t hesitate to compare his running
back to Clarett — at least on the field. While Clarett has
been a nuisance off the field, Stuursma insisted that Michigan
wouldn’t have to worry about those issues with Grady.

“We played Gaylord (in a) regional championship game and
they awarded us medals after we won,” Stuursma said. “A
little kid came up to Kevin and Kevin turned and handed him the
medal — it probably made the kid’s year.

“You have to pinch yourself sometimes because he’s
the real deal. He’s not perfect, nor is anybody, but he
certainly does have a presence about him.”

Still, in spite of the incredible amounts of praise heaped onto
him, Grady is aware that he has areas he needs to improve in.

“Out of all the areas (of my game), blocking would
probably be the worst,” Grady said. “It’s not
bad, but there’s always work to do.”

But outside of that, there doesn’t appear to be much to
prevent Grady from, at the very least, getting a chance in
Michigan’s 2005 backfield.

“I like contributing and doing everything I can to help
the team win,” Grady said. “I’ve talked to
(Michigan coach Lloyd) Carr and he expects me to come down and play
a role.”

 

The 2005 Recruits

Kevin Grady is unanimously ranked as one of the top recruits in
the country. Besides Grady, 11 other high school players have
verbally committed to Michigan’s program. They are:

Carson Butler DE 6-6/235

Mario Manningham WR 6-0/174

Tim McAvoy OL 6-6/270

Chris McLaurin DE 6-4/217

Zoltan Mesko K 6-4/230

Chris Richards ATH 6-0/155

LaTerryal Savoy WR 6-2/195

Justin Schifano OL 6-5/300

Johnny Sears DB 6-1/175

Mister Simpson RB 5-10/195

Terrance Taylor DT 6-1/285

Another five-star recruit, cornerback Justin King from
Pittsburgh is expected to announce his college choice on Monday
according to The Patriot News of Harrisburg, Pa., which lists
Michigan and Penn State as two of King’s favorites. Michigan
could use King with corners Marlin Jackson and Markus Curry
graduating after this year.

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