The best running back of the Jim Harbaugh era is moving on, as Michigan legend and Ohio State destroyer Hassan Haskins is hopeful of hearing his name called in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.
The senior running back had the best season a running back has had in Ann Arbor in quite some time, rushing for 1,327 yards and 20 touchdowns in 14 games played. That level of production will be impossible to replace, and it’s likely it won’t come from just one player.
Appearing on the In The Trenches podcast, Harbaugh admitted the top two running backs on the team right now are Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. That two-headed monster has a lethal combination of speed, receiving skills and shiftiness that should be able to lead the Wolverines well in 2022.
But neither of those guys are like Haskins, who did the dirty work and picked up tough yards consistently, especially on third and fourth downs. But Harbaugh pointed out two younger running backs capable of stepping in and being that next bruiser running back for Michigan.
“Who that third back will be or someone who can get into the rotation, or who can take Hassan Haskins’ place remains to be seen,” Harbaugh said. “Tavi Dunlap, he’s got the skillset to do it. He’s continued to improve as a runner and lowering his pads when he gets to the line of scrimmage.
“But also, I’ll let the cat out of the bag, I’ve moved Kalel Mullings to running back and linebacker, he’s now a two-way player. He looked real good (in the spring game) and looked real good in practice. Now, the amount of knowing the plays and the offense will develop as he goes. But — could be Tavi, could be Kalel Mullings, as that guy who replaces a lot of the carries that Hassan Haskins had.”
Harbaugh also noted A.J. Henning as a player getting reps at the running back position, but certainly wouldn’t be carrying the ball the way the other two players would be. Both Harbaugh and Henning himself described him as more of a Deebo Samuel-esque player, so he’d get some carries every now and then as a versatile offensive weapon.
Mullings had zero carries a season ago, as he was focusing on linebacker at the time. He did play running back in high school, but hasn’t done so consistently since then, so it may take some more time for him to get up to speed. But it wouldn’t be the first time a linebacker converted to running back and had a successful career at Michigan — just look at Haskins.
As far as Dunlap, he was recruited to play running back and was a true freshman last year. He played in just two games but was able to rush for 51 yards on seven carries.
We should see a steady dose of both Dunlap and Mullings in 2022 when Corum and Edwards need a breather. This battle for the third running back spot will continue throughout the summer.