Michigan's Higdon: Harbaugh 'wasn’t happy' with decision to skip Peach Bowl

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
North running back Karan Higdon of Michigan (22) carries the ball as North outside linebacker Dre Greenlaw of Arkansas (36) defends during practice Tuesday for Saturday's Senior Bowl.

Mobile, Ala. — Karan Higdon insists it wasn't an easy decision, but he's confident it was the right one. 

Hours before taking part in the first Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday, the former Michigan running back said his choice to sit out Peach Bowl was a layered decision not strictly based on his NFL prospects.

“I wrestled with it a lot,” Higdon said. “I really didn’t think about it until after the Ohio State game and once things died down, found out we were playing in the Peach Bowl, there was a conversation that had to be had and decisions that had to be made, one way or another.

"It was a variety of different variables," he said. "I had a conversation with my team, a conversation with my coaching staff and my family and we ultimately decided it was best for me to sit out."

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Higdon, who is on the small side for the position at 5-foot-9, weighed in at a sturdy 203 pounds at the event. He acknowledged the physical toll his senior season had taken on him. He carried the ball 224 times in 11 games, just a dozen short of his total from the previous two seasons combined. 

While noting every year's recovery is unique, he said his body didn't feel back to normal after this season until earlier this month. 

Higdon, who served as a captain in 2018, said he talked to teammates and coaches the day of the Peach Bowl prior to watching the game from a facility in Miami where he's training this offseason.  

"It was hard to watch it just knowing I wasn’t there with the guys," he said. "It was tough. I wanted to be there, they wanted me to be there. It was just a tough situation for me"

One person especially disappointed Higdon didn't play was coach Jim Harbaugh. 

"Obviously, that’s not his favorite decision for me to sit out the bowl game," Higdon said. "He has a job as a head coach to win and he wants all his guys to help him win. He wasn’t happy about it, but he respected it."

Currently projected as a mid-round pick, Higdon is donning Michigan's winged helmet for the Senior Bowl because he believes it's a bigger stage than the Peach Bowl for NFL decision makers. 

He wants to impress upon them he's capable of serving as a three-down back. The biggest hurdle he knows he has to overcome is proving he can be a reliable pass-catching option out of the backfield. That was something he was rarely asked to do at Michigan, where he caught just 16 passes in 39 career games. 

"(I want to show) that I’m a complete back — that I can pass protect, I can run between the tackles, I can run outside the tackles, catch the ball, run routes out the backfield." Higdon said. "I wasn’t asked to run routes out of the backfield at Michigan a lot, so just being able to show that ability is key."

To close the gap he noted that he's been putting in extra time running routes with receivers and catching passes from the JUGGS machine.  


Twitter: @Justin_Rogers