Name: C.J. Stokes
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Columbia (SC) Hammond
Position: Running back
Jersey number: #23
Last year: I ranked Stokes #83 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He ran 55 times for 273 yards (5.0 yards/carry) and 1 touchdown, while catching 1 pass for 15 yards.
TTB Rating: 71
Stokes had a bit of a head-scratching 2022. He was the #798 overall recruit in the 247 Composite, but he immediately jumped to the #3 running back slot, sliding past Tavierre Dunlap and a couple walk-ons. He got his biggest chance against Illinois when he ran 11 times for 36 yards in the absence of Donovan Edwards (who was injured) and Blake Corum (who got injured against the Illini), but a couple crunch time plays went to walk-on Isaiah Gash. Later in the season, linebacker Kalel Mullings converted to running back and became the backup to Edwards with Corum out. Stokes was nowhere to be found in the Big Ten championship game against Purdue or in the playoff game against TCU.
Personally, I liked what I saw from Stokes, who averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a freshman against Big Ten opponents. With an additional nine pounds added since last season (196 to 205), he should be a little stronger and tougher to bring down. But he has a battle on his hands for the #3 spot, with Mullings, freshman Benjamin Hall, and freshman Cole Cabana now on campus. Michigan went from having four scholarship backs in 2022 to suddenly having seven (depending on how one categorizes LB/RB Mullings), so competition for carries will be tougher in 2023.
Prediction: Backup running back
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