Three Michigan football players on the early All-American list for the 2023 season
Michigan Football had a stellar 2022 season after beating both rivals and winning the Big Ten. The Wolverines found themselves in the college football playoffs for the second straight season, but the Corn and Blues had the same result — a first-round loss — for two straight seasons.
However, an unbeaten season is no small thing, especially in the Big Ten. For a team to remain undefeated and win their conference, they must have some dynamic players in their 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 released an All-American roster in early 2023. The Wolverines had three players on the PFF list.
The first, unsurprisingly, was running back Blake Courm. The senior back shocked some people when he decided to come back for his senior season and forego the NFL draft, where he may have been one of the first running backs from the board. Corum rushed for 1,463 yards in 12 games last season and was on the Heisman vote. If he can stay healthy this season, expect him to be a talking point again in 2023.
Corum’s 96.2 score not only led all players in the country last season, it was the best PFF ever seen by a Power Five player.
Top rated seasons by a Power Five player in the PFF college era (since 2014)
Corum’s 96 rushing first downs/touchdowns were the second most in the country behind only Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim, who received 72 more carries. The junior is expected to be shortlisted for the Heisman Trophy next season.
Depending on who you’re listening to or what you’re reading, you might be shocked to see Drake Nugent on this list. The Wolverines landed Virginia’s Oluwatimi on a graduate transfer last season and it worked wonders. Jim Harbaugh and the Corn and the Blues are hoping they can achieve the same success with the Stanford transfer in 2023. Nugent, though it appears it will be a suspension to start at center, will battle Greg Crippen and Raheem Anderson to anchor Michigan’s offensive line in 2023.
Despite losing Outland Trophy winner Olusegun Oluwatimi, Michigan should still have an elite game down the middle of their offensive line.
Nugent is the highest-ranking center on this list and the most valuable returning player in the Power Five position based on PFF’s above-average wins. The Stanford transfer’s 84.1 run-blocking degree ranked third among all centers in the country last season. Between Nugent creating holes down the middle and two top-10 running backs in Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, the Wolverines’ ground game should be deadly again next season.
Will Johnson is another surprise to make PFF’s 2023 All-American list. PFF lists Johnson as a “Flex-D” position and has Kool-Aid McKinstry and Kalen King ahead of them at cornerback, but Johnson still made the list. Johnson, who was a freshman last season, emerged as arguably Michigan’s best defenseman by the end of the season. He should have an excellent sophomore year.
Johnson entered Ann Arbor as a five-star recruit and immediately showed he was worth the hype.
He will remind many of Patrick Surtain II thanks to his height (6-ft-2) and lockdown ability. A true freshman, Johnson led all corners of the Power Five with a 91.1 mark in man marking. His two interceptions at Man also finished fifth in the same group.
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Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire