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Kalel Mullings’ path to Michigan, outlook for 2023

Mullings can do it all.

Big Ten Championship - Purdue v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

A player who came to Michigan on defense, but has since seen his most significant impact on the offensive side of the ball — Kalel Mullings’ name was called in pivotal situations last season.

The story so far

Mullings was a four-star recruit in the 2020 class, ranking as the No. 152 player nationally and No. 10 outside linebacker. Mullings’ stellar play as a running back and linebacker earned him an invitation to the All-American Game.

Michigan was the first school to offer Mullings, and despite receiving offers from Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and others, Mullings chose Michigan.

Mullings started to see the field more during his sophomore campaign in 2021, where he appeared in 13 games on special teams while receiving snaps at linebacker in 10 games. In all, Mullings had 11 tackles.

During Michigan’s spring game in April of 2022, Mullings received snaps at running back and popped off a couple of big runs, and it was clear he’d be getting carries in the fall.

Mullings became a definitive Swiss Army Knife for Michigan last season

  • Appeared in 12 games (10 at linebacker, three at running back)
  • 12 tackles
  • 14 carries for 31 yards and three touchdowns
  • Completed a 15-yard pass against Ohio State
  • Returned a blocked punt for 22 yards.

Mullings’ most productive game came in the Big Ten Championship Game against Purdue, where he had eight carries for 26 yards and two touchdowns. Mullings said he brings a “linebacker mentality” to the running back position, which is why Michigan gave him opportunities in short-yardage situations

Mullings followed up his Big Ten Championship performance with up-and-down results in the Fiesta Bowl versus TCU. While Mullings had a goal-line touchdown in Michigan’s loss to the Horned Frogs, he also fumbled the ball on the goal line and TCU recovered. It was a momentum killer on first down, to say the least.

Outlook moving forward

Michigan has good depth at linebacker this season, and while Mullings will likely see snaps at linebacker, his best route to playing time may be in short-yardage situations for the Wolverines. If the spring game is any indication, Michigan still plans to use Mullings on offense. Mullings rushed for 37 yards on 9 carries with one touchdown in their spring game last month.

Mullings had a play to remember against Ohio State on a jump pass, and then a play to forget in the Fiesta Bowl. Neither play will define Mullings’ career at Michigan, the 2023 season could be his best yet.

Michigan has two of the best backs in the nation in Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards but Mullings may wind up as RB3.