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Maize n Brew’s Bracket for the best player of the Jim Harbaugh era: Offense Round 1

Cast your votes for the top offensive player Michigan has had under Jim Harbaugh

It’s been a couple fun seasons for Michigan Wolverines fans thanks to two Big Ten Championships and College Football Playoff appearances.

Now, the offseason is underway and originally, Maize n Brew was going to do a series of the top-10 players since Jim Harbaugh returned to Michigan, but we realized it was nearly impossible to do so with all the talent that has been in the program since then.

So we are leaving it up to the fans to vote for the champion in Maize n Brew’s Best Player of Harbaugh Era Bracket! This week, we will break down the offensive side of the bracket with the results coming on Saturday, May 13.

Here is the full bracket.

Without further ado, here are all the matchups in Round 1:

No. 1: Blake Corum vs No. 16: Cade McNamara

The case for Blake Corum

2022 was the best season 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 a knee injury, he likely would have been a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

The case for Cade McNamara

After Shea Patterson left following the 2019 season, Michigan had a conundrum at quarterback between Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton, but by the end of the season, McNamara had earned the starting role. He brought the Wolverines out of the mud in 2021 by leading the team to their first Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff appearance in the Harbaugh era. But he was docked a few spots for transferring to a rival Big Ten program (even though we support him and wish him the best moving forward).


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    No. 1: Blake Corum
    (1007 votes)
  • 1%
    No. 16: Cade McNamara
    (13 votes)
1020 votes total Vote Now

No. 8: Jon Runyan Jr. vs No. 9: Trevor Keegan

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 for Shea Patterson. He was a four-time letterman and started 26 games, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches in 2018 and 2019.

The case for Trevor Keegan

Keegan has made 22 starts for the back-to-back Joe Moore Award-winning offensive lines. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches in 2022 and an honorable mention the year prior.


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    No. 8: Jon Runyan Jr.
    (899 votes)
  • 40%
    No. 9: Trevor Keegan
    (618 votes)
1517 votes total Vote Now

No. 5: J.J. McCarthy vs No. 12: Karan Higdon

The case for J.J. McCarthy

He’s the best Jim 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. He’s got a chance to lead Michigan to the promised land in 2023.

The case for Karan Higdon

Higdon ran for more than 2,000 yards in in 39 career games. He was a team captain in 2018 and was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in his senior season. That season, he was also named a semifinalist for the Doak Walker and Maxwell Awards.


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    No. 5: J.J. McCarthy
    (1390 votes)
  • 11%
    No. 12: Karan Higdon
    (172 votes)
1562 votes total Vote Now

No. 4: Olu Oluwatimi vs. No. 13: Shea Patterson

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.

The case for Shea Patterson

Some of you may be shaking your heads about this one, and there was a lot of discussion in the Maize n Brew Slack chat about putting Patterson on the bracket. But here are the facts: Patterson went 2-0 against Michigan State (effectively ending Dantonio’s career), he finished seventh in all-time passing yards in program history (in just two seasons as a starter), and threw for 3,061 yards in 2019, the second-most in a single season in school history. He deserves a spot in the bracket.


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    No. 4: Olu Oluwatimi
    (1282 votes)
  • 16%
    No. 13: Shea Patterson
    (258 votes)
1540 votes total Vote Now

No. 6: Ben Bredeson vs. No. 11: Ronnie Bell

The case for Ben Bredeson

Bredeson started 46 games at Michigan, all at left guard. In 2019, he was named a second-team All-American by Walter Camp and a third-teamer by the Associated Press. He was a two-time team captain and a three-time All-Big Ten honoree.

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. He’s very likely the best wideout of Harbaugh’s time at Michigan.


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    No. 6: Ben Bredeson
    (703 votes)
  • 53%
    No. 11: Ronnie Bell
    (818 votes)
1521 votes total Vote Now

No. 3: Jake Butt vs. No. 14: Cesar Ruiz

The case for Jake Butt

A lot of Harbaugh’s early success at Michigan involved Jake Butt, and he has yet to develop a tight end like him since then. He 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. Butt was a two-time Big Ten Tight End of the Year, and won the Mackey Award in 2016.

The case for Cesar Ruiz

In 2019, Ruiz allowed just eight quarterback pressures throughout the entire season. He started 31 games, most coming at center before being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. He was a part of those great offensive lines with Bredeson and Runyan Jr. that instilled a lot of fear in the Big Ten.


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    No. 3: Jake Butt
    (1223 votes)
  • 18%
    No. 14: Cesar Ruiz
    (276 votes)
1499 votes total Vote Now

No. 7: Zak Zinter vs. No. 10: Donovan Edwards

The case for Zak Zinter

Harbaugh has long heralded Zinter as one of the best offensive linemen he has coached. He’s started 31 games at right guard since becoming a starter as a true freshman. His run-blocking has been phenomenal, which is why he was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2022 and a second-teamer in 2021.

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 next season.


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    No. 7: Zak Zinter
    (434 votes)
  • 71%
    No. 10: Donovan Edwards
    (1072 votes)
1506 votes total Vote Now

No. 2: Hassan Haskins vs. No. 15: Nico Collins

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.

The case for Nico Collins

Collins was a huge receiving threat in Ann Arbor, catching 13 touchdowns and racking up almost 1,400 yards in 29 career games. He was the team’s 2019 Offensive Player of the Year and was a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention.


Who’s the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    No. 2: Hassan Haskins
    (1422 votes)
  • 5%
    No. 15: Nico Collins
    (82 votes)
1504 votes total Vote Now

The results from these polls will be announced next Saturday and we will begin the next round of voting on Sunday, May 21.