No matter how significant a role it ends up being, there is always a group of freshmen who come into their college program and earn quality playing time, and that was no different for Michigan last year.
The first player to touch the ball last year was a true freshman — Giles Jackson on the opening kickoff against Middle Tennessee State. He, along with Zach Charbonnet, Mike Sainristil, Erick All, Daxton Hill, Chris Hinton and Anthony Solomon (13 games on special teams) all played a lot last year as true freshmen.
Michigan incoming class of 2020 is a highly-talented bunch of prospects who bring a blend of speed on offense and toughness on defense. Some of these players won’t see much action, if any at all, their first year on campus. But there are some guys in this class I expect to see the field almost instantly.
Here are some players who I believe can earn significant playing time their first season in Ann Arbor.
A.J. Henning and Roman Wilson, WR
Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis wanted to add speed to the receiver room in the 2020 class, and you can look no further than these two guys.
Henning was the No. 1 ranked player in Michigan’s class. He was heavily recruited by elite schools like Notre Dame, Georgia, Alabama and Penn State. Ultimately, he chose U-M after a recruiting visit last summer. He got in the car, left campus, felt the need to commit and had his parents drive him back to Schembechler Hall to deliver the good news.
Henning is an extremely versatile play-maker. According to his 247Sports profile, he had 52 catches for 815 yards and 13 touchdowns. That is good in its own right, but then he tacked on 808 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Add in his 4.46 40-yard dash and 4.08 shuttle time, and you are looking at a potential game-changing offensive weapon Michigan has not had in a long time.
I think Henning will be a consistent contributor on offense and special teams in 2020. He has a very similar skill set to Giles Jackson, and I think Gattis could create a lot of interesting plays with Jackson and Henning lined up in the backfield at the same time.
Meanwhile, Wilson was, somehow, not as highly recruited as Henning. He held other offers from Arizona State, Oregon, Hawaii, Cal, Washington, Wisconsin, UCLA and others. Some good schools, but not the elite programs Henning had.
He gained his fourth-star after running a 4.37 40-yard dash and a 3.96 shuttle time at The Opening. He put up 32 receptions for 803 yards and seven touchdowns his senior year at Saint Louis School in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also participated in the Polynesian Bowl.
While Wilson is also a very talented player as well, I believe he is more of a burner on the outside than a do-it-all offensive player like Henning. He can do solid work in the slot, but I think Wilson’s best work is on the outside and beating defensive backs one-on-one with his speed, which is, again, something Michigan needed in this class.
Much like Henning, I believe Wilson will contribute on offense and special teams this upcoming season. I could see these two guys battling it out at punt returner, along with my next true freshman on this list.
Blake Corum, RB
Another guy who brings speed to Michigan’s offense, Corum has the ability to do a lot of the things Henning could do for Michigan in 2020.
Corum (5-foot-8, 193 pounds) ran a 4.44 40-yard dash and a 4.22 shuttle at The Opening, so speed is definitely a big part of his game as well. But for being a shorter running back, he can also work really well between the tackles, much like another shorter former U-M running back — Mike Hart.
Corum had a monster senior season, including going off for more than 250 yards and one touchdown against one of the best high school teams in the country, Mater Dei. He finished his senior year with 1,438 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns, and 13 receptions for 226 yards and three touchdowns.
A four-star talent out of St. Frances Academy, Corum picked Michigan over Ohio State, LSU and USC. He also held offers from Georgia, Michigan State, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and more.
Needless to say, Corum brings a dynamic to the running back room it really had not had. I would look for him to potentially be a return man on special teams, while also getting some snaps on offense behind Charbonnet, Hassan Haskins and Chris Evans.
Andre Seldon, CB
One of my favorite players from Michigan’s 2020 class, Seldon brings toughness and swagger to the cornerback room despite only standing 5-foot-8. But he doesn’t let his size dictate how he plays his position. He got the best of 6-foot-7 tight end Darnell Washington, a five-star from the 2020 class, on the play below.
Andre Seldon (Michigan commit) with the PBU vs. 6'7 5-star TE Darnell Washington at UA Bowl practice pic.twitter.com/hadNOppjpi— The D Zone (@TheD_Zone) January 1, 2020
Thanks to his sticky cover skills, Seldon had six interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and three pass breakups his senior season. And thanks to his speed, he also returned four punts for touchdowns. With those traits, along with his mentality, I would imagine Don Brown is pretty excited to have him in Ann Arbor.
An in-stater from Belleville, Seldon shut down his recruitment very early in the process. He held other offers from Kentucky, Maryland, Syracuse and a few other Power 5 schools, but he never considered flipping, which likely led to him not receiving any other big offers.
Seldon is an absolute dog and has the mindset he is the best player on the field at all times. That, combined with his good cover skills and speed, leads me to believe he will earn some run on defense at some point in 2020.