The second round of Maize n Brew’s bracket for the best player of the Jim Harbaugh era is set after the first round of the Defense Region was voted on this past week. Check out the breakdown of the results here in case you missed it.
Let’s set the stage for Round 2 of our bracket:
Three of the top eight remaining players are running backs, and that will be cut down to two or one depending on how you vote. We’ll also declare the best pass catcher of the Harbaugh era with a matchup between the top receiver and tight end on the board.
There is quite a bit to shake out here, so let’s get the voting going, with the results coming next Saturday!
No. 1: Blake Corum vs No. 8: Jon Runyan Jr.
The case for Blake Corum:
The 2022 season was the best under Harbaugh, and Corum was the best player on that team. He was a unanimous First-Team All-American and was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. Had it not been for his knee injury, he likely would have been a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Corum has had several really impressive seasons, tallying almost 2,500 career yards and 31 touchdowns while averaging six yards per carry. He is only going to build upon his Michigan legacy by returning for his senior season where he likely will enter the top-10 in program history in rushing touchdowns and yardage, if he is healthy.
The case for Jon Runyan Jr.:
It’s hard to believe some of the offensive lines Michigan had from 2017-19 didn’t win a Joe Moore Award, because they had some beasts. At the top of the list was Runyan Jr., playing most of his snaps at left tackle. He was a four-time letterman and started 26 games, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches in 2018 and 2019.
Runyan took the nod over Trevor Keegan in the first round by a thin margin, and he’s one of only two offensive linemen to make the second round with some others being upset by lesser seeds. Both are in danger of being taken out in the second round with some big named position players as their matchups.
Who’s the better player: No. 1 Blake Corum or No. 8 Jon Runyan Jr?
This poll is closed
No. 1 Blake Corum
No. 8 Jon Runyan Jr.
No. 4: Olu Oluwatimi vs. No. 5: J.J. McCarthy
The case for Olu Oluwatimi
Man, was it fun watching Olu in 2022. Michigan has had a lot of great offensive linemen under Harbaugh, but I don’t think any of them compare to Oluwatimi. As a grad transfer, he came in and was the anchor of the Wolverines’ offensive line, winning the first Outland Trophy in program history. He also won the Rimington Trophy, and the offensive line repeated as Joe Moore Award winners.
I honestly thought Shea Patterson would have put up a little more of a fight in the first round since he was a multi-year starting quarterback facing a one-year player in Ann Arbor. Still, Oluwatimi’s presence was felt, and he led the way early and often for Corum and Donovan Edwards coming out of the backfield. Those two would not have had the seasons they did without the big fella leading the way.
The case for J.J. McCarthy
He’s the best quarterback Harbaugh has had at Michigan. In 2022, he was a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and was an All-Big Ten selection after winning the Big Ten championship. Last season, he finished with more than 3,000 total yards and 27 total touchdowns. If he can perfect his deep ball connection this season, Michigan will have one of the most dynamic offenses in college football.
It’s interesting to think what could have been without the two pick-sixes against TCU in the College Football Playoff. But, they would not have even been there if it weren’t for his 263 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State to beat the Buckeyes for the second year in a row.
I expect McCarthy to be the slight favorite in this matchup since he is the team’s current quarterback. He’s got a chance to lead Michigan to the promised land in 2023.
Who’s the better player: No. 4 Olu Oluwatimi or No. 5 J.J. McCarthy?
This poll is closed
No. 4 Olu Oluwatimi
No. 5 J.J. McCarthy
No. 3: Jake Butt vs. No. 11: Ronnie Bell
The case for Jake Butt:
A lot of Harbaugh’s early success at Michigan involved Jake Butt, and he has yet to have a tight end like him since then. Butt holds the program record for most career receptions (138) and yards (1,646) by a tight end after appearing in 49 games and making 37 starts. He was a two-time Big Ten Tight End of the Year and won the Mackey Award in 2016.
It’s crazy to think he kept pace with Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson in the offense with Jake Rudock and Wilton Speight at quarterback. It’s such a shame to think what could have been at the next level if he didn’t get hurt in the Orange Bowl against Florida State:
Jake Butt retired from football today.— Sidelines - Michigan 〽️ (@SSN_Michigan) July 28, 2021
So sad that he got injured in that bowl game, he was definitely a fan favorite and one of the best TEs to ever play at Michigan. #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/r59L0Ciwhw
The case for Ronnie Bell:
If it weren’t for his ACL tear in 2021, Bell would have likely finished as one of three Wolverines to ever surpass 3,000 career receiving yards, joining Braylon Edwards and Anthony Carter. Still, he finished eighth all-time and outperformed every other receiver he’s played with, including Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins. He’s very likely the best wideout of Harbaugh’s time at Michigan.
Bell narrowly escaped the first round with a 54% win over left guard Ben Bredeson. It’s interesting to think what could have been in 2021 if the Wolverines had its top receiver. It was apparent they didn’t have the firepower to compete with Georgia, but maybe they go in undefeated and put up more of a fight.
Who’s the better player: No. 3 Jake Butt or No. 11 Ronnie Bell?
This poll is closed
No. 3 Jake Butt
No. 11 Ronnie Bell
No. 2: Hassan Haskins vs. No. 10: Donovan Edwards
The case for Hassan Haskins
Haskins had a historic five-touchdown performance against Ohio State in 2021, tying a Michigan record. That capped off a season-record 20-touchdown season in his senior year, earning him All-American honors from AFCA and the AP, along with a consensus First-Team All-Big Ten selection.
His matchup with Edwards in the second round is, in my opinion, the most intriguing. There is no doubt Haskins is the far more proven player, but I’m not sure he is as great of an athlete as Edwards. It’ll be a classic battle of production vs eye-test to determine who wins this one.
The case for Donovan Edwards
Two of the most memorable offensive plays of Harbaugh’s tenure have come with the ball in Edwards’ hands with his 75+ yard touchdown runs against Ohio State in 2022. He’s a fantastic player and will be a part of the best running back duo in college football.
The problem is he is not the current starter and likely never will be barring an injury to Corum. Edwards has said he would like to move to the next level after 2023, and I suppose things could change, like they did for Corum. But Edwards has the talent to maybe be the second-best back Harbaugh has had. He is certainly the best receiving back, and I suspect we will see some packages with both him and Corum on the field this season because of how well he did as RB1 in some big games down the stretch.
Who’s the better player: No. 2 Hassan Haskins or No. 10 Donovan Edwards?
This poll is closed
No. 2 Hassan Haskins
No. 10 Donovan Edwards
Drop your comments on the second-round matchups and who your favorites are for a chance to be featured in Saturday’s results story!