The Michigan Wolverines’ running back room was a boon to their success in 2022. Blake Corum was hailed as the best back in college football before going down with an injury late in the season. Then, Donovan Edwards took over and kept it chugging past Ohio State, Purdue in the Big Ten Championship, and all the way to the College Football Playoff.
Corum’s ascension last year had many thinking he would be headed to the NFL Draft, even coming off the knee injury. Instead, he made the decision to remain in Ann Arbor. As both he and Edwards return, they are one of the best (and likely the best) running back duos in college football headed into 2023.
On3 ranked the top-10 returning players at their position before spring practices begin, and both Wolverines made the cut with Corum coming in at No. 1:
“Want a guy you can just hand the ball off to and have good things happen? Look no further than Corum, who carried a hefty load in the Michigan backfield. Corum single-handedly beat a couple teams last season, toting the rock 247 times for 1,463 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was a major reason Michigan made a repeat appearance in the College Football Playoff.”
It’s so disappointing fans were stripped of seeing Corum against Ohio State and TCU in the College Football Playoff. His numbers in 2022 were akin to some of the greatest running backs college football has seen in the last 25 years.
How good has @blake_corum been this season?— Dan Plocher (@DanPlocher) November 6, 2022
Look at this elite company...
Dude has to be the Heisman favorite after this week! pic.twitter.com/2LiU44cnfs
Corum basically didn’t play for the two games of the regular season, and missed the Big Ten Championship and the College Football Playoff. He still finished with the 11th-most rushing yards in the country and was tied fifth with 18 rushing touchdowns.
Let’s imagine Corum put his per-game stats for the rest of the season. He would have finished with almost 400 more yards and about five more touchdowns. That would have put his totals in first place in the country in either category. There’s not a shot he misses the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York if that happens, and he would have had a shot to win it.
Jim Harbaugh went as far as to say he is the best running back he has ever coached outside of an NFL great: “Except for some of the pro backs. Probably the only exception would be Frank Gore that I was able to coach. Blake is the best running back I’ve coached. He means that much. He’s having that kind of a season.”
Even after a reporter tried to clarify, Harbaugh reiterated, “Yeah. Well, maybe just best back overall: Frank Gore. But Blake’s got some years. He’s still young. He definitely has the license and ability in my mind to be every bit as good as Frank Gore.”
While that praise seems insane, it speaks to just how great Corum is when the football is in his hands. His return is going to be monumental to the Wolverines’ success in 2023.
Meanwhile, Edwards comes in at No. 8 overall. The kicker is it comes after the Ohio State duo of Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively.
“Not to be outdone with a terrific one-two combo in the backfield, Michigan boasts its own with Corum and Edwards. Edwards managed to pile up some impressive yardage on a 7.1 yards per carry average, totaling 991 yards and seven touchdowns on just 140 carries.”
The former five-star recruit was destined to have a monumental career in Ann Arbor. As a freshman, he had a 10-reception, 170-yard performance in a 59-18 blowout of Maryland. That was when everyone saw how great he could be.
He backed that up in 2022 by finishing 41st in the country in rushing yards despite being Michigan’s No. 2 back and missing a few games due to a hand injury. In the last three games of the year, when he still had a banged up hand, he rushed for 520 yards, including an insane 216 in the win over Ohio State. The way he filled in for Corum help the Wolverines make it to the Big Ten Championship and beyond.
"They didn't need Blake Corum today. They had Donovan Edwards."— Anthony Broome (@anthonytbroome) December 16, 2022
: HailHailToMichigan (YouTube) pic.twitter.com/j9a8RbDP05
The fact these two will both be wearing maize and blue again in 2023 hasn’t fully resonated with me yet. They are going to be by far the best duo we have seen in Ann Arbor since Harbaugh has been head coach and maybe...ever? A few come to mind with Corum and Hassan Haskins, and Tyrone Wheatley and Tim Biakabutuka. However, this duo is now both fully at their collegiate peak. One thing is for sure — it’s going to be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses to gameplan for these two next season.