When Michigan running back Blake Corum announced he would return to Ann Arbor, the decision sent shock waves throughout the entire country. No one expected Corum, fresh off a season of 1,400 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns while earning unanimous All-American honors, to return to collegiate athletics.
Despite enduring a season-ending knee injury, Corum was still projected as one of the top backs in a relatively thin 2023 draft class. So why come back? Of course, NIL helps, but Corum cited “unfinished business” and decided to run it back with Team 144.
The story so far
Let’s go back. Four-star running back Blake Corum committed to Michigan in late June 2019 following a successful campus visit. The No. 232 player in the country entered a crowded and talented position room that featured Chris Evans, Zach Charbonnet, Christian Turner and Hassan Haskins, but the freshman would not be discouraged.
On the very first play of the season, Corum’s faith and hard work were rewarded with a swing pass, which he promptly turned into a 24-yard gain. The first play of the season went to a true freshman. I don’t have the historical archives in front of me, but I can assure you that rarely happens at Michigan.
While the 2020 season was ultimately an unmitigated disaster for the Wolverines, Corum and several other players stuck it out, determined to turn the program around and finish what they started.
The following season saw Corum explode onto the scene with 952 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns as the RB1-B with Haskins. Behind this two-headed monster, the Wolverines toppled Ohio State for the first time in a decade, won an outright Big Ten Championship for the first time since 2003 and advanced to the College Football Playoff for the first time ever.
As the 1-A option in 2022, Corum was on pace to win the Heisman Trophy 11 weeks into the season. Corum had been relentless all year and against Illinois in the penultimate regular season game, he had already racked up more than 100 yards from scrimmage in the first half and looked poised for another 100+ in the second.
But a freak injury late in the second quarter ended Corum’s season. The perseverant Corum tried to play the following week against Ohio State, but he was not even 20% of what he had been all season and shut it down.
Outlook moving forward
Corum’s return to join Donovan Edwards reaffirmed the Michigan Wolverines will have the best running back duo in college football next season. However, things will be different for Corum compared to the prior two seasons.
In 2023, expect a more even split of carries at the top between Corum and Edwards, and expect other reserve running backs to ease the burden on the top two guys. Neither of them have ever played a full 12-game season of college football, so health will be paramount for a team with national championship aspirations.
Corum has the potential to join Tyrone Wheatley in Michigan running back lore with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and consecutive victories over Ohio State. But Corum is focused on business even bigger than the Buckeyes this season.
If Corum leads Michigan to the promised land, he could go down as the best Michigan running back in the history of the program.