There are many uncertainties surrounding college football right now. The 2020 season is still in jeopardy, and even if a season does occur it might do so with empty stadiums or a limited schedule. Still, it is never too early to take a look at the Michigan depth chart and the players slated to contribute whenever football does resume. Join us as we comb through the roster and answer key questions heading into this fall.
Blake Corum, true FR
247 Composite Ranking: 4 stars (RB 12, Overall 128)
2019 Stats: n/a
Zach Charbonnet was an important recruit, and his freshman year gives hope that Michigan successfully reeled in a non-bust top running back. As impressive as Charbonnet is, though, the recruitment of Blake Corum was just as essential to the development and progression of the offense under Josh Gattis, as both types of backs fill different roles.
The position group is far from bare, with Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins shouldering the load in 2019. The return of Chris Evans and the growth of Christian Turner leaves little extra room on the surface. However, could there be space for one more? The Wolverines are very likely to play out the four games that Corum is allowed to enter while keeping his redshirt, and depending on how good he looks, there is a real possibility of him seeing much more action than that.
Will Corum impress enough to race past his four redshirt games?
On the surface, it may not seem like Michigan needs Corum given the returning options at running back, but this may be overlooking exactly what he brings to the table. He is extremely elusive and cuts quickly, exploding through the hole and racing away from defenders. His athleticism is apparent right away, and he is very capable as a pass catcher. This sounds just like the speed-and-space type of players the Wolverines need.
Evans possesses some similar traits, as does someone like Giles Jackson as a spread-H type option, but there are not that many players on the roster that can match the potential of Corum. As a true freshman he is sure to be raw at first, but that is where Michigan can use the new redshirt rule to its advantage. Getting him on the field relatively early on will give the coaching staff the opportunity to determine if he should see an increased role or not deeper in the season.
Last year the running back room was fairly empty and Charbonnet was donned the starter from day one. The situation is slightly different this season, and Corum is a rung below Charbonnet in terms of pure talent, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that the coaches fall in love with what they see out of him and look to start building him into the offense. If someone seems like they can be a legitimate contributor, Jim Harbaugh will not shy away from playing them, regardless of their class year or prior experience.
The expectation should still be muted, as is the case for any freshman, but Corum’s speed and playmaking ability could prove just too valuable to box away. Michigan absolutely needs to keep moving forward on offense, and a thunder and lightning approach out of the backfield would be a great weapon to unleash. Corum will experience a learning curve, but he has a chance to show that he needs to be utilized from the start and has the talent to back it up.