One reason to be excited about the upcoming Michigan Football season resides in their talent at the running back position.
Michigan legend and new running backs coach Mike Hart has a diverse and talented stable of backs ready to not only contribute, but with the potential to turn heads in 2021 if things go their way. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis acknowledged the team got away from the running game a year ago at times — and after an off-season of reflection there has been a clear and concise commitment to the rushing attack and keeping Michigan’s offense a balanced one.
Here’s what the top of Michigan’s RB depth chart should look like this fall.
1A. Hassan Haskins, senior
Haskins has been a productive back for Michigan in his two years of action, rushing for 997 yards, 10 touchdowns while averaging an impressive 5.5 yards per carry. Haskins split carries quite evenly with Zach Charbonnet in 2019, but overtook him as starter in 2020. Charbonnet ultimately transferred to UCLA and now Haskins will receive a heavy dose of carries this year.
What he brings: Haskins has shown he can be a powerful back who gets better as the game goes on. “Whatever the play is (run) blocked for he’s at least getting another yard or two”, head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “If it’s blocked for zero, he’s probably going to get one-yard. If it’s blocked for two he will get four, if it’s blocked for four he’ll get six. He’s a real football player.”
While Haskins is a powerful back, he has above average ability in the open field and can make defenders miss. His vision and patience as a runner has progressed and this could be the year where all the hard work pays off and Haskins puts together a memorable season.
1B. Blake Corum, sophomore
The 5-foot-8 Corum is someone who displayed speed a season ago but has bulked up this winter and spring and has a lot more muscle this year. Corum had 26 carries in 2020 for 76 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 5 receptions for 73 yards.
What he brings: Corum will be an asset as a pass-catcher out of the backfield on top of his duties as a rusher. Corum has the ability to break to the outside for big gains and his carries will see a major uptick this season.
Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis mentioned that Corum relied too heavily on speed during his freshman season, but now has developed into a true running back with the patience it takes to succeed.
“Now he understands what it takes to be a high-level, collegiate running back. The plays he’s been making in practice — we all know that once he gets to the second level, there’s no one that can run with him or catch him,” Gattis said. “He’s been able now to have a better feel for the position and patience has really paid off for him. He’s also got really elite ball skills out of the backfield.”
3. Donovan Edwards, freshman
The true freshman from West Bloomfield, Michigan is definitively one of the fastest playmakers on the team, and will have a role carved out when the season begins next month.
What he brings: Speed, speed, and more speed. Harbaugh says that Edwards has the speed the best backs have.
“Donovan is going to be really good. He’s got that—there’s such a competitive part about him. The thing Donovan understands is that it takes the whole team. It takes a whole team to win a championship. Nobody is winning any championships unless there’s a team. He speaks that team language as good as anybody that I’ve been around,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been a blessing that way. He won a championship, he won one at West Bloom. He knows. He’s going to be in the mix, you’ll be seeing Donovan Edwards game one.”
Edwards will definitely contribute in the passing game and keep defenses honest and on their toes this fall. Further, Mike Hart has had success coaching freshmen ‘backs, and Gattis credited Hart with the progress Edwards has made to this point.
4. Tavierre Dunlap, freshman
The freshman from Texas competed in both football and track in high school and was ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 19 overall RB in the 2021 class.
What he brings: It’s hard telling what Dunlap brings but Harbaugh said he’d like to get Dunlap onto the field this season and play a role. “We’re practicing him and working him. He’s getting better and better,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know what part of the season it will be but I feel like he’s going to be ready if needed.”