The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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50 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY JOHN BORTON B lake Corum doesn't give an inch on the football field, despite his 5-foot-8, 200-pound stature. Away from it, the junior tail- back can't seem to give enough. Corum delivered for the Wolverines in a huge way last season. He rushed for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 6.7 yards per carry, best among Michigan's run- ning backs. He hauled in 24 receptions for 141 yards and another TD. He brought back a dozen kickoffs for 304 more yards. But before his breakthrough season even ended, Corum found himself delivering in other substantial ways — handing out free turkeys at Thanksgiving, while supplying aid and inspiration in his tiny hometown of Marshall, Va. Corum emerged this spring as the clear leader in Michigan's running backs room. He's also not afraid to issue bold public statements, harkening back to his position coach, Mike Hart, in his playing days. Ask Corum about Michigan's offense for 2022, and he doesn't back down. "I feel like we're the best offense in col- lege football, just because of the threats we have everywhere," Corum insisted. "I think we have the best offense." Corum doesn't leave it at that. He points to a "dominant" offensive line, noting: "When you look at our O-line, you can tell that's going to be a dominant offense." He speaks of senior Cade McNamara and sophomore J.J. McCarthy as a pair of quarterbacks who can take over a game. He heaps praise on U-M's array of talented receivers, and he acknowledges the one-two punch of himself and sophomore tailback Donovan Edwards isn't half bad, either. All tallied, it adds up to some 2022 dyna- mite, Corum assured. "We will be better than last year's offense, due to the fact that Cade has become smarter, and I personally have become smarter," Co- rum reasoned. "Everyone's IQ for the game has gotten better. "Gaining some new guys and getting [graduate wide receiver] Ronnie [Bell] back, I feel like we're going to be very, very dan- gerous." Individual Gains, Team Surges Corum sees big gains not only in his own game, but also individually among his team- mates and for the group as a whole. He served as a complementary piece of the puz- zle in the COVID-truncated 2020 campaign, rushing 26 times for 77 yards as a freshman. That all changed last fall, following an offseason of maniacal workouts. The buffed- up Corum not only flexed physically, he also gained a mental savvy revving up his reactions. "I can play at my speed now," he said. "Before, I had a lot going through my head — who is coming on the blitz and such. Now, I can tell what defense they're in. I can tell who is coming before the play. As an athlete, when you can play at your speed, that's when you're dominant. "I don't really think too much anymore. I just play ball. When you can just play ball, that's what you do. That's where I've grown — the IQ of the game." Playing ball has always moved him, almost as far back as he can remember. Growing up in Marshall, he found him- self almost immediately drawn to the au- tumnal action. "I've always loved football," he said. "I was telling my dad the other day, this is like my 16th or 17th year of playing foot- ball. I started at 5. "I just love the game. I love being out there with the guys. I love being on a team. I love working hard in the offseason. "All of those things contribute to the game of football. My love for the game runs deep. I can't imagine having to retire someday. I love everything that comes with it, the stuff it teaches you. It's the best game in America." Those sorts of feelings make it easier to do the tough part. Everyone loves rushing out on Saturdays before 110,000 adoring fans and millions more watching on televi- sion. BIG GAINS, BIG HEART Running Back Blake Corum Combines Grit And Generosity PHOTO COURTESY BLAKE CORUM / TWITTER

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