Michigan football had an outstanding 2022 campaign after beating both rivals and winning the Big Ten. The Wolverines found themselves back into the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row, but the maize and blue had the same result — a loss in the first round.
However, an undefeated season is no small feat, especially in the Big Ten. For a team to go undefeated and win its conference, it must have some dynamic players on the roster. Last season, Michigan had four All-Americans. Blake Corum, Olu Oluwatimi, Jake Moody and Mike Morris all had All-American honors.
Looking ahead to 2023, Pro Football Focus came out with an early 2023 All-American list.
The first, to no surprise, was running back Blake Corum. The senior back shocked some people when he decided to come back for his senior season and forgo the NFL draft where he may have been one of the first running backs off the board. Corum rushed for 1,463 yards in 12 games last season and was in the Heisman voting. If he can stay healthy this season, expect him to be back in the conversation in 2023.
Corum’s 96.2 grade didn’t just lead all players in the country this past season, it was the best PFF has ever seen from a Power Five player.
Corum’s 96 rushing first downs/touchdowns were second-most in the country behind only Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim, who received 72 more carries. The junior should be on the shortlist of favorites for the Heisman Trophy next season.
Depending on who you listen to or what you read, seeing Drake Nugent on this list may shock you. The Wolverines landed Oluwatimi from Virginia as a graduate transfer last season and it worked wonders. Jim Harbaugh and the maize and blue are hoping they can find the same success with the Stanford transfer in 2023. Though it seems Nugent will be a lock to start at center, he will battle both Greg Crippen and Raheem Anderson to anchor the Michigan offensive line in 2023.
Despite losing Outland Trophy winner Olusegun Oluwatimi,
Nugent is the highest-ranked center on this list and is the most valuable returning player at the position in the Power Five according to PFF’s wins above average metric. The Stanford transfer’s 84.1 run-blocking grade ranked third among all centers in the country this past season. Between Nugent creating holes in the middle and two top-10 running backs in Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, the Wolverines’ ground game should once again be deadly next season.
Will Johnson is another no-surprise to make PFF’s All-American list for 2023. PFF lists Johnson as a ‘Flex-D’ position and has Kool-Aid McKinstry and Kalen King ahead of him at cornerback, but Johnson still found his way on the list. Just a freshman last season, Johnson turned into arguably Michigan’s best defensive back when the season was all over. He should have an excellent sophomore year.
Johnson entered Ann Arbor as a five-star recruit and showed immediately that he was worth the hype.
He’ll remind many of Patrick Surtain II thanks to his size (6-foot-2) and lockdown ability. As a true freshman, Johnson led all corners in the Power Five with a 91.1 grade in man coverage. His two interceptions in man were also tied for fifth in that same group.
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Big yikes to the Boilermakers.
There’s certainly a few common denominators. #GoBlue
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