As a competitor, Donovan Edwards should want to be the only running back receiving a handoff from JJ McCarthy. However, with the recent ability to make money through NIL, Edwards should welcome Corum back with open arms. Moreover, the way the NFL is trending, Edwards should go as far to roll out the read carpet.
NFL GM’s like their shiny objects NEW
NFL teams are more hesitant than ever to draft running backs in the first round. GM’s want athletes with as little tread on their bodies as possible. There was once a time where being a productive, workhorse back was the hottest commodity. Those days are over. Producing consistently in a shared-backfield is becoming more and more significant.
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Take former Michigan State running back, Kenneth Walker III. The Seattle Seahawks running back is expected to be the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The award would be most deserving, as he was emerged as the workhouse Pete Carroll needed. Most amazingly, Walker III produced while playing through nagging injuries and missing multiple games due to injury. I don’t believe that many running backs would be able to accomplish what he has in the NFL already, considering his injuries. I’m not a doctor, but I imagine his residence on the injury-list is at least partly due to the season he had in East Lansing. A season in which Mel Tucker called his name 263 times and allowed him to be the superstar that MSU needed.
He should have been a Heisman Finalist
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I certainly hope that K9 goes on to have an successful injury-free career, but the point is that K9 is SPECIAL. NFL GM’s understand this and will point to his college career as a reason for hesitation when considering running backs moving forward. At the very least, Donovan Edwards can keep this in the back of his mind for those upcoming days where his patience may be thin.
On the flip side, Edwards may have to sacrifice a Heisman Trophy by splitting carries with Corum in 2023. However, he now has the opportunity to earn money while in college through his Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). In previous years, for running backs especially, all of their attention needed to be focused on becoming the highest pick in the draft. They were forced to put all of their eggs in one basket. Now they have the ability to to hedge any future/expected NFL earnings in a multitude of ways.
Blake Corum Announces Return
Corum announced Monday that he would return for another season with the Michigan Wolverines. Since suffering a season-ending knee injury against Illinois, Corum has been rehabbing and contemplating his immediate future. “My goals have always been about leaving an enduring legacy at the winningest program in the history of college football,” Corum wrote in his statement. “Motivated by my profound love for Michigan and commitment to my education, I have decided to return for another season. It is an honor to be a student-athlete at the University of Michigan.”
Corum was one of the best running backs in college football before his injury. He was Michigan’s workhorse running back when healthy and had 247 carries for 1,463 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. His projected draft slot was inconsistent among NFL analysts, pre-and-post injury. With so much uncertainty, and the ability to earn NIL income in a city that loves him, Corum is back in Ann Arbor.
Spotlight on Donovan Edwards
Since Blake Corum’s injury, Donovan Edwards has stepped out from the supporting cast and into a starring role effortlessly. It seems, too, that Donovan Edwards will never shy away from the spotlight.
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Edwards was a four-star recruit from West Bloomfield High School in West Bloomfield, Mich. He led the team to a state championship with coach Ron Bellamy in 2020, and won Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year. Bellamy is now the wide receivers coach at Michigan. “He has a unique combination of speed and strength, but what I feel sets him apart is an innate ability to take over a game.” Lake Orion (Mich.) coach John Blackstock said at the time. Edwards rushed for 1,502 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior in 2021. He was the fourth-highest ranked running back in his class. Just behind Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson, Clemson’s Will Shipley and Kamar Wheaton, who transferred from Alabama to SMU.
Edwards Patients Pays Off
Donovan Edwards had a limited role as a freshman behind Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, but he showed flashes of his talent as the third running back. This appeared particularly in the passing game that year. As a sophomore, Edwards began the year as the backup for Corum, who some thought may have an outside shot at the Heisman. As we know, due to Corum’s injuries, Edwards was forced to step up in some of Michigan’s biggest games of the season.
It is hard to argue with Edwards’ big-game performance after looking at the output this past season. In the 41-17 victory against No. 10 Penn State, Edwards had 16 carries for 173 yards and two touchdowns. This included a 67-yard score in the third quarter that broke the game open. In the 45-23 victory against No. 2 Ohio State, Edwards emerged as the big-play back in the second half. He had 22 carries for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns, 75- and 85-yard bursts, were back-breakers in the fourth quarter. Edwards’ blend of confidence and hard-nosed running ability is a combination that Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh looks for in running backs.
“Coach Harbaugh, he said it first, I thrive in the big games,” Edwards said at media availability Monday. “I come alive in the big games. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to play in the big games.”
The Michigan offense should be VERY good in 2023 with Corum, Edwards and star quarterback, JJ McCarthy. With Corum back in the fold, he and Edwards are, once again, the best 1-2 combination at running back in the country. Edwards will remain a significant piece to the offense if Michigan wants to break a national championship drought that extends back to 1997.
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