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Michigan football announces 2023 team awards

Several Wolverines were recognized for their excellence throughout the year.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Football Championship-Michigan at Iowa Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Hartwell Matt covers all things Michigan football related for Maize n Brew and runs the social media accounts.

Michigan has at least one game left in the 2023 season: the College Football Playoff semifinal against Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. But on Sunday night, the focus was shifted towards reflecting on the successes of the season so far at the team’s annual football banquet.

The program announced its award winners via social media. You can see the winners below.

Scout Team Players of the Year

Per the team’s website, the scout team player of the year award is defined as being given to the football player who shows outstanding commitment and effort to making his teammates better as a member of the scout team. This could be a sign of things to come for reserve interior offensive lineman Raheem Anderson — who has patiently waited his turn for a starting spot — and true freshman linebacker Hayden Moore.

Rookie of the Year

No surprises here! Typically this award would be given to both an offensive and defensive player, but on a 2023 team oozing with veteran depth, Semaj Morgan was an explosive blip of what’s to come for the Wolverines.

Most Improved Players

Kenneth Grant, Max Bredeson and Tommy Doman all proved to be valuable pieces to Team 144’s successes. Grant emerged as one of the team’s most prolific play makers on defense following a slow launch during his freshman campaign, while Max Bredeson was utilized heavily as a run-blocking fullback who paved the way for Blake Corum and his 22 rushing touchdowns. Doman admirably took over for Brad Robbins and has been a weapon on special teams, helping flip the field on many occasions.

Demonstrating Success in the Classroom

Serving as the Wolverines’ anchors on both the offensive and defensive line, it’s only fitting Zak Zinter and Kris Jenkins are equally as impressive within the REAL trenches: Education!

Top LB, Top DL

From “gifts from the football gods” to the Wolverines’ 2023 shared winners of the team’s top defensive lineman award — Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant had one of the more impressive seasons than you can ever imagine seeing out of two sophomore interior defensive linemen.

Barrett has served as a critical piece to Michigan’s top-ranked defense. He currently ranks No. 2 on the team in total tackles with 52, and No. 1 with three forced fumbles.

Top OL

This one comes as no shock after Zinter earned unanimous first-team All-American honors last week. Zinter is the first Michigan offensive lineman to garner unanimous All-American status since tackle Jake Long did it in 2007.

Blue Collar Award, Toughest Player of the Year

No stranger to the term “blue collar,” it’s only fitting Corum would take home the award of the same name for a second consecutive year. He also was named the Wolverines’ toughest player in 2022, which this season went to Colson, who led the team in tackles with 79 while battling a hand injury for a decent portion of the season.

Special Teams Player of the Year, Specialist of the Year

James Turner was exactly what Team 144 needed him to be. Taking over for Michigan legend Jake Moody, Turner went 16-for-18 on field goals — four of those in the Big Ten Championship against Iowa — and only missed one extra point.

Unsurprisingly, Caden Kolesar has rebounded nicely as a leader of the punt/kick return units following a major injury that forced him to miss most of last year.

Offensive Player of the Year, Offensive Skill Player of the Year

As owner of 43 percent of Michigan’s offensive touchdowns in 2023, it’s only fitting the Offensive Player of the Year goes to Corum.

Outside of Corum, the offense has largely hinged upon the outputs of Roman Wilson and Colston Loveland, who both accounted for 15 of the team’s 21 receiving touchdowns. They are certainly worthy of splitting the Offensive Skill Player of the Year award.

MVP

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said in October that J.J. McCarthy, “Has shown to be on path to be the best quarterback in Michigan history.” McCarthy helped his case on Sunday night after securing the prestigious honor as the program’s 2023 MVP.

Defensive Player(s) of the Year, Defensive Skill Player of the Year

How incredible is Mike Sainristil? The 2023 Big Ten Championship MVP’s team-leading five interceptions, six passes defended and 151 interception return yards helped him earn the Defensive Skill Player of the Year.

Sainristil also earned a share of the Defensive Player of the Year with fellow defensive anchors — Colson and Jenkins.