There’s no secret the Michigan Wolverines have one of the best backfields in college football heading into 2023. Several national outlets stated this offseason Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards are among the top-10 returning running backs in college football, and for good reason.
In 2022, Michigan had the best offensive line in the country and dominated on the ground with Corum. He was a Heisman candidate before going down with a knee injury late in the year against Illinois. Then, Edwards stepped in without missing a beat. With a broken hand, he made some of the biggest plays of the season against Ohio State and in the Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff.
As a former five-star recruit, Edwards has always had a certain moxie on the football field. That’s why he saw significant playing time as a true freshman and has been seen as one of the best backups at his position.
Many NFL Draft experts saw his play late in the year and expect him to be one of the first backs drafted in 2023, even though he will very likely never be a starter in Ann Arbor. With Corum back with hopes of leading a team to the National Championship, there is a good chance Edwards will never see more than 50 percent of the snaps in college. In the NFL’s eyes, that could create a unique prospect in Edwards, who has a plethora of talent and a low workload over his collegiate years.
When it finally is his time, Edwards has massive expectations for himself at the next level. He sat down with Max Chadwick from Pro Football Focus and dropped one of the most legendary quotes I have ever seen from someone his age:
“I will go down as one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game,” Edwards told PFF. “I’ll be up there with Walter Payton, Barry Sanders. I believe I will revolutionize the game and the position. This is the perfect time for me because the NFL wants running backs who can catch. If the NFL wants a linebacker on me, good luck with that. I don’t care who you are. Good luck guarding me. I see all the stuff right now with how the running backs aren’t getting paid. I believe that I’ll get paid for how I play the game.”
Michigan has utilized him in the passing game before. Against Maryland in 2021, Edwards had 10 receptions for 170 yards and a receiving touchdown. He never quite got to that level again in 2022 because of his hand injury, but I would not be surprised if he saw a lot of targets for the Wolverines this season as they begin to throw the ball more often in J.J. McCarthy’s second year behind center. There should be an abundance of opportunity for Edwards to continue to show off his skills.
Big expectations are on the way for the Wolverines and Edwards, and the target on their back in the Big Ten likely got a little bigger after comments like this from one of the best players on the team. But that noise has never concerned any party in Ann Arbor, and its because of the mentality this program has instilled:
“Always believe in yourself,” Edwards continued with PFF. “Always strive to be the best version of yourself. Life is never going to go your way. I realized that early. Everything we go through is a battle. It’s like a school with tests — either you pass or you fail. If you recognize what you’re going through and get over it, you’re passing and doing something right.”