The news that came out of Ann Arbor on Sunday is significant. Running back Chris Evans isn’t a member of the Michigan football team and won’t step on the field for the Wolverines in the 2019 season.

Jim Harbaugh told The Detroit News during the Best of the Midwest football camp that Evans, who was the team’s second-leading rusher  in 2018, is suspended for the upcoming year. An unspecified academic issue was reason for the ban, which was handed down by the university, not Harbaugh or the football program.

“Chris Evans is suspended for the year,” Harbaugh said.

Evans rushed for 423 yards and four touchdowns last season for the Wolverines on 81 carries. His suspension means that Michigan enters the 2019 season without its top two backs from last fall, with Karan Higdon’s career coming to an end after tallying 1,178 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018.

Losing Evans is a significant blow for Michigan’s offense and creates some uncertainty surrounding the backfield, but it’s not a reason to panic. At least not at this point in the offseason.

Michigan is going to rely on inexperienced running backs this fall, and there’s a good chance the rushing attack comes by committee. Senior Tru Wilson is the veteran of the group, totaling 364 yards and a touchdown on 62 carries last season. Redshirt freshman Christian Turner took 20 handoffs for 95 yards in three games a year ago. Incoming running back Zach Charbonnet is a four-star prospect and is the Wolverines’ highest-rated offensive commitment of the class.

Turner and Charbonnet missed spring practice due to injuries but the two will compete with Wilson for the starting job throughout the summer and fall. Those are some pretty good options for Harbaugh and company, even if there aren’t a lot of live reps between them.

Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

More important than having a trio of running backs with a high ceiling, though, is that Michigan returns four starters along the offensive line. And, really, that’s probably more important than having an experienced ball carrier in the B1G. Sure, both would be ideal, but Michigan is in a pretty good situation heading into the fall.

Basically, if there was ever a time to be ushering new faces at the position, 2019 is the year to do it for Michigan.

Jon Runyan, Michael Onwenu, Cesar Ruiz and Ben Bredeson all return up front this season. It’s a group that helped pave the way for a rushing attack that averaged 203.8 yards per game last year, ranking fifth in the B1G and 30th nationally. That front line should have no trouble opening gaps for whoever is toting the ball out of the backfield.

And then there’s the fact that Josh Gattis is implementing a brand new offense in Ann Arbor, one that speeds up the game and allows Michigan to be a little more productive in the passing attack. With receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tarik Black returning, as well as Shea Patterson under center, the Wolverines’ passing attack could be one of the most lethal in the B1G.

Efficiency through the air will open things up on the ground, as well.

No, Michigan doesn’t have that 1,000-yard back returning and nobody on the roster has spent time as the primary ball-carrier for the length of a season, but there are several factors at play. Whether the Wolverines find a primary guy to handle a majority of the workload like they did last year with Higdon, or they use an interchangeable three-back system to divvy up the carries, they’ve got the necessary pieces in place to have an effective rushing attack.

Evans’ suspension is a significant blow and wipes out the most experienced and arguably most talented back on Michigan’s roster. Running the football shouldn’t be much of an issue in Ann Arbor, though.

The Wolverines still have everything they need to produce effective numbers on the ground this fall.