Name: Kalel Mullings
Weight: 239 lbs.
High school: West Roxbury (MA) Milton Academy
Position: Running back
Jersey number: #20
Last year: I ranked Mullings #39 and said he would be a backup linebacker and special teamer (LINK). He made 12 tackles, ran the ball 14 times for 31 yards and 3 touchdowns, and completed 1/1 pass for 15 yards.
TTB Rating: 78
It’s not often that Michigan running backs average 2-point-something yards per carry, but when they do, it’s because they’re scoring touchdowns. Yes, Jim Harbaugh hearkened back to the old, old, old days of . . .
. . . 2016.
He made Khalid Hill the “Hammering Panda” by giving him the ball 25 times for 39 yards and 10 touchdowns. Hill scored 3 the next year and then left, only to be replaced by Ben Mason, who averaged 2.4 yards/carry on his way to scoring 7 touchdowns.
Those are unfair comparisons, because Mullings is speedier and more athletic than both of those guys. Mullings could probably be a starting tailback at a number of FBS schools, but at Michigan, he’s maybe the third-best guy.
The only reason Mullings got a chance to play running back last year is because Blake Corum hurt his knee and Donovan Edwards hurt his hand. Mullings didn’t notch any carries until the final three games, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a 15th rushing opportunity was botched on the goal line against TCU, resulting in a fumble and then a 99-yard drive by the Horned Frogs that resulted in a touchdown. Michigan tried to surprise TCU with a handoff to Mullings, who was lined up at fullback with Edwards behind him, but Michigan surprised itself. Ouch.
To end last year’s recap on a high note, Mullings also lined up in a short yardage situation and then threw a halfback pass to Colston Loveland in the win against Ohio State, which was a little bit fun.
This year I have Mullings ranked here at #38 because I think Jim Harbaugh will be loyal to a guy who has stuck around for four years without any guarantees of a starting role. Whether it’s as a short yardage back or as a legitimate backup option, I think Mullings will play. There’s less need for a goal line back when the tough, slippery Corum is available, but Michigan may try to keep Corum healthy for the stretch run by taking some of the load off of him.
Prediction: Backup running back
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