…On any other team, Michel might have been a Heisman contender and likely All-American. Playing in a backfield that also featured Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb, however, meant fewer opportunities.
Winning the SEC title and playing for a national championship while splitting duty with Chubb - a good friend - was quite the consolation prize for Michel, however, who left Georgia with 3,638 rushing yards, 3rd only to Chubb (4,769) and the legendary Hershel Walker (5,259) and ahead of Gurley (3,285) in all-time career rushing yards for the powerhouse program.
Producing eye-popping numbers is nothing new for Michel, who rushed for 1,883 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior in high school, earning the USA Today Football Player of the Year in 2013 for the talent-rich state of Florida. Michel (pronounced Michelle) signed with Georgia as one of the more highly touted prospects regardless of position in the entire country, a consensus top 20 talent regardless of position by recruiting experts.
He played in eight games as a true freshman and earned his first start against Louisville in the Belk Bowl, rushing for 33 yards and a touchdown and a catching a pass for another 32 yards against the Cardinals. Though he missed five games after breaking a bone in his shoulder against Tennessee, Michel looked every bit the part of a future pro as a freshman, rushing for 410 yards and five touchdowns on just 64 carries (a 6.4 yard per carry average), while also catching seven passes for 106 yards and another score.
It was Michel and not Gurley (who would be the 10th overall pick by the Rams a few months later) who would earn Offensive MVP honors in 2015, rushing for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns despite starting just six of the 13 games in which he played. Michel was especially effective as a receiver out of the backfield as a sophomore, catching 26 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns - each of which would be the highest marks of his college career.
Named one of four team captains (and yet starting just two of 12 games), Michel rushed for 840 yards and scored four touchdowns as a junior. He saved his best for last, setting career-highs in rushing yards (1,227), average per carry (7.9) and rushing touchdowns (16) as a senior, excelling down the stretch as Georgia won its first SEC crown since 2005 and earned a trip to the national championship.
American Heritage, coached by Mike Rumph ... 2013 American Family Insurance USA Today All-USA first team and All-USA Florida Team ... USA Today Florida Football Player of the Year ... member of Florida's Class 5A All-State First Team ... member of the 2013 FHSF Class 5A Preseason All-State Elite Team ... PrepStar Magazine five-star prospect, Top 150 Dream Team, #3 ranked RB and #10 ranked player in the country ... Rivals.com five star prospect, #14 player nationally, #14 RB nationally, #2 player in the state ... Scout.com five-star prospect, #13 player nationally, #2 RB nationally, #2 player in the state ... 247Sports.com four-star prospect, #57 player nationally, #6 RB nationally, #8 player in the state ... ESPN.com four-star prospect, #19 player nationally, #2 RB nationally, #2 player in the state ... played in the U.S. Army All-American Game ... rushed for 1,833 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season.
Naturally elusive back, showing the light feet and greasy knees to shake defenders in a phone booth and squirt through small holes to get to the secondary in the blink of an eye. Bolts to and through the line of scrimmage when the hole is there, showing very good initial quickness to create positive yardage. Doesn't panic when the hole isn't immediately available, however, showing patience when necessary to allow blocks to develop, as well as very good vision for cutback lanes with the lateral agility and burst to take advantage. Good balance to tightrope the sideline and dead-leg defenders, showing the ability to keep his feet through contact. Possesses broad shoulders and a very well-built upper body with a v-cut mid-section and relatively narrow hips, leaving a disproportionately small bulls-eye for would-be tacklers to target. Lowers his shoulder to initiate contact, showing no hesitancy to run through traffic. Soft hands out of the backfield with good concentration to gather and secure the ball quickly. Physical in pass protection, competing to sustain blocks. -- Rob Rang 1/13/2018
Possesses a relatively high-cut "beach body" frame with better muscle development in his upper body than his lower. Has an upright running style and just average leg drive to churn out the tough yards. More quick than fast, lacking the elite second gear to pull away. Some ball security issues with 12 fumbles (five lost) over his career, averaging one per 131 touches, albeit with just two (one lost) coming in 2017... Needs to show greater awareness in pass protection, getting tunnel vision and failing to anticipate blitzers and edge rushers, at times. Comes with some medical red-flags, after twice undergoing surgery on his left arm due to separate incidents. Missed five games in 2015 after sustaining a broken bone in his left shoulder. Underwent surgery prior to the 2016 season (July) after breaking his left forearm following an ATV accident. - Rob Rang 1/13/2018
COMPARES TO: Alvin Kamara, Saints - It remains to be seen if Michel is drafted into as enviable a role as Kamara landed with the Saints' wide-open attack but like the similarly-built former Tennessee (and Alabama) standout, Michel could be destined for even greater success in the NFL than he enjoyed in the SEC.
IN OUR VIEW: Teams looking for an immediate spark will be intrigued by Michel, whose production against elite competition speaks for itself. Kamara is at his best in space and boasts the soft hands to be a formidable weapon on all three downs, projecting as an immediate impact rookie who would be best served going to a team which will complement him with a bruiser for short yardage duties.