We’re cruising through Maize n Brew’s Bracket for the best player of the Jim Harbaugh Era, cutting down from 32 players to just eight remaining. It’s crunch time now as we cut to the final four guys who could take the crown.
Every player remaining has either been an All-American or played for one of the two teams that made the College Football Playoff in the Harbaugh-era. Let’s get the voting started for each region so we are on step closer to crowning the champion!
No. 1: Blake Corum vs No. 5: J.J. McCarthy
The case for Blake Corum:
The 2022 season was the best under Harbaugh, and Corum was the best player on that team. He was a unanimous First-Team All-American and was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. Had it not been for his knee injury, he likely would have been a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Corum has had several really impressive seasons, tallying almost 2,500 career yards and 31 touchdowns while averaging six yards per carry. He is only going to build upon his Michigan legacy by returning for his senior season where he likely will enter the top-10 in program history in rushing touchdowns and yardage, if he is healthy.
He’s had some pretty incredible games in the maize and blue, but I’m not sure any top his 243-yard performance against Maryland last season. Corum carried the ball 30 times and put it in the endzone twice, including massive runs on 3rd and 4th downs throughout the game.
Blake Corum against Maryland last year was one of the more underrated individual performances in College Football last season— Josh Augdahl 〽️ (@UMFanAugdahl) May 9, 2023
The case for J.J. McCarthy
He’s the best quarterback Harbaugh has had at Michigan. In 2022, he was a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and was an All-Big Ten selection after winning the Big Ten championship. Last season, he finished with more than 3,000 total yards and 27 total touchdowns. If he can perfect his deep ball connection this season, Michigan will have one of the most dynamic offenses in college football.
It’s interesting to think what could have been without the two pick-sixes against TCU in the College Football Playoff. But, they would not have even been there if it weren’t for his 263 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State to beat the Buckeyes for the second year in a row.
McCarthy can do things on the football field that so little can accomplish. He has most certainly lived up to his five-star status since coming in. Entering his second season as a starter, he has the chance to lead the Wolverines to the promise land. If he does, this ranking could be very different.
JJ McCarthy, welcome to College Football pic.twitter.com/XdbGI5nvBt— Michigan Moments (@UofMMoments) September 4, 2021
Who’s the better player: No. 1 Blake Corum vs No. 5 J.J. McCarthy
This poll is closed
No. 1 Blake Corum
No. 5 J.J. McCarthy
No. 2: Hassan Haskins vs. No. 3: Jake Butt
The case for Hassan Haskins
Haskins had a historic five-touchdown performance against Ohio State in 2021, tying a Michigan record. That capped off a season-record 20-touchdown season in his senior year, earning him All-American honors from AFCA and the AP, along with a consensus First-Team All-Big Ten selection.
Haskins deservedly makes an appearance in the Top-4 in the Offense Region after what was an incredible run in the winged helmet. He had 10 games where he rushed for more than 100 yards. His career high came in that Ohio State win in 2021 where he racked up 169 yards. Without him in that game, I am not sure Michigan would have won, especially because Corum was a little banged up as well.
Today is the longest day of the year, which means from sunrise until sunset, you can watch Hassan Haskins score five touchdowns against Ohio State 1,251 times. pic.twitter.com/1JWm7m4YMc— Blue By 90 (@bluebyninety) June 21, 2022
The case for Jake Butt:
A lot of Harbaugh’s early success at Michigan involved Jake Butt, and he has yet to have a tight end like him since then. Butt holds the program record for most career receptions (138) and yards (1,646) by a tight end after appearing in 49 games and making 37 starts. He was a two-time Big Ten Tight End of the Year and won the Mackey Award in 2016.
It’s crazy to think he kept pace with Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson in the offense with Jake Rudock and Wilton Speight at quarterback. It’s such a shame to think what could have been at the next level if he didn’t get hurt in the Orange Bowl against Florida State:
The one knock on Butt is that Harbaugh adopted him, he wasn’t a recruit that came in because of his prowess. Still, his last two seasons at Michigan may not have been as great as it was if it were not for Harbaugh’s tight end-heavy approach to the offense.
Jake Butt retired from football today.— Sidelines - Michigan 〽️ (@SSN_Michigan) July 28, 2021
So sad that he got injured in that bowl game, he was definitely a fan favorite and one of the best TEs to ever play at Michigan. #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/r59L0Ciwhw
Who’s the better player: No. 2 Hassan Haskins vs. No. 3 Jake Butt
This poll is closed
No. 2 Hassan Haskins
No. 3 Jake Butt
No. 1: Aidan Hutchinson vs No. 4: Jourdan Lewis
The case for Aidan Hutchinson
Hutchinson’s impact was immense. He was a 2021 consensus All-American while breaking the program record for the most sacks in a season with 14. After a three-sack performance in the win over Ohio State, Hutch finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting while winning just about every award for the best defensive player in the country. He was also a two-time captain in Ann Arbor.
Being a hometown kid that wound up playing at Michigan and being drafted by the Detroit Lions at No. 2 overall is a dream for so many. Along with his play, I think that is why Hutchinson has an advantage over any other player on this list. He’s a Michigan man through and through, and he is one of the best to ever do it in Ann Arbor.
I mean, if this does indoctrinate the mentality Harbaugh came into Michigan to establish, I don’t know what does. Hutchinson was a badass:
At #8, Aidan Hutchinson says “Let’s go bitch” and completely bulldozes Ohio State’s left tackle as Michigan beats the Buckeyes. Absolute domination. pic.twitter.com/80hM97GXlH— Blue By 90 (@bluebyninety) December 23, 2021
The case for Jourdan Lewis
I feel like because of how great the defensive lines were in his time, Jourdan Lewis does not get the respect he deserves. He was a two-time All-American making 30 starts in his career at Michigan. He’s the Wolverines’ career leader with 45 pass breakups, including a program single-season record of 22 in 2015.
Without a doubt, Lewis is the best corner that Harbaugh has had in his time at Michigan, and there have been quite a few studs that have already been eliminated from this bracket.
Lewis just always seemed to make big plays in the most important games. In 2016, he made one of the greatest interceptions I have ever seen to seal a win against a top-10 Wisconsin team:
2016.— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 16, 2020
Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis.pic.twitter.com/eiwyE192r6
Who’s the better player: No. 1 Aidan Hutchinson vs No. 4 Jourdan Lewis
This poll is closed
No. 1 Aidan Hutchinson
No. 4 Jourdan Lewis
No. 2: Jabrill Peppers vs. No. 3: Devin Bush
The case for Jabrill Peppers
Jabrill Peppers was a special college football player. He played meaningful downs in all three phases of the game at an elite level. In 2016, he became the first player in Big Ten history to win three individual conference awards — the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year, Linebacker of the Year and Return Specialist of the Year. He also finished fifth in Heisman voting and was a consensus All-American. I could go on and on...
Peppers also had one of the most impressive single-game performances I have ever seen. He had a sack, a two-point conversion taken the other way and scored a rushing touchdown in the 2016 win over MSU.
Personally, Peppers is one of my favorite players to ever play at Michigan. He was exhilarating to watch, and the only other spectacle like him to play for the Wolverines in my lifetime was Denard Robinson. There are very few guys that you just half to see every down for because they are just that special, and Peppers was one of them.
Jabrill peppers dominates Michigan State pic.twitter.com/fEZpn2gAce— Truzz (@1Lamarszn) October 23, 2022
The case for Devin Bush
Devin Bush is the best linebacker Jim Harbaugh has had; he was all over the field. In 2017, Bush had 102 total tackles, earning him some nods for All-American status. Then after a stellar 2018 season, he was named a consensus All-American. He finished his career with 193 tackles, 19 for loss, 10 sacks and an interception.
Bush just did everything right. He could move sideline to sideline, stuff runs up the middle, and was good enough in coverage to stick along with just about anybody. There are so many plays that ended with me in awe of what Bush had just done. He’ll forever be one of my favorite Wolverines to watch. Plus, he was a gritty dude that delivered an all-time moment in the Michigan State rivalry:
This is absolutely my favorite matchup in the final eight because both of these guys were the best athletes on the field for every down that they played. In their own individual way, they clearly dominated on the defensive side of the ball and it’s going to be thrilling to see how this plays out.
Michigan and Michigan State will face off on the gridiron for the first time since the Devin Bush field kick incident pic.twitter.com/WBts2UAIwN— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 16, 2019
Who’s the better player: No. 2 Jabrill Peppers vs No. 3 Devin Bush
This poll is closed
No. 2 Jabrill Peppers
No. 3 Devin Bush
Make sure to comment with your thoughts below for the opportunity to be featured in our results piece that will be released on Friday!