RUNNING BACK: 2018 Karan Higdon
Higdon spent his first couple seasons as a backup to De’Veon Smith, but he broke out in 2017 by averaging over 6.0 yards per carry, just barely missing 1,000 yards (he finished with 994). His senior season of 2018 was a good cap to his career, as he ran for 224 yards, 1178 yards, and 10 touchdowns. So far he’s the only running back to top 1,000 yards since Harbaugh arrived.
FULLBACK: 2016 Khalid Hill
Hill, who I recently discussed in my review of 2013 TTB Ratings (LINK), became a fullback after spending his first couple years at the tight end position. I had questions about how well he would do with the transition, but he did just fine. Not only was he a solid blocker, but he was also a virtual guarantee on short yardage and goal line opportunities. He ran 25 times for 39 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he also caught 16 passes for 118 yards and 3 touchdowns.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2015 Jehu Chesson
Michigan has yet to produce a 1,000 yard receiver under Jim Harbaugh, but Rudock-to-Chesson might have been the most lethal combination in the second half of that 2015 season. Chesson set a career best with 10 catches for 207 yards and 4 touchdowns against Indiana, and he finished the year with 50 catches for 764 yards (15.3 yards/catch) and 9 touchdowns.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2019 Nico Collins
Collins did not get the volume that many top-notch receivers get, but he made plays when given the opportunity. Though Pro Football Focus suggested he dropped a lot of passes, he seemed to make a lot of contested catches. He finished the year with 37 catches for 729 yards (19.7 yards/catch) and 7 touchdowns.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2019 Ronnie Bell
This may be a little bit of a controversial choice, because Bell took a lot of flak for some missed opportunities. But he was Shea Patterson’s #1 target during the 2019 season and made a ton of plays. He caught 48 passes for 758 yards (15.8 yards/catch) and 1 touchdown. He showed a lot of toughness by working over the middle and breaking a ton of tackles after the catch.
TIGHT END: 2015 Jake Butt
Butt won the Mackey Award for the nation’s best tight end after the 2016 season, but I believe he played better as a junior in 2015. He caught 51 passes for 654 yards (12.8 yards/catch) and 3 touchdowns.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE: 2018 Jon Runyan, Jr.
Runyan was named First Team All-Big Ten in both 2018 and 2019, but I’ll go with his redshirt junior year as his best season.
OFFENSIVE GUARD: 2019 Ben Bredeson
Bredeson was named First Team All-Big Ten as a senior in 2019. While he was a solid player earlier in his career, he was very reliable in his final campaign.
CENTER: 2019 Cesar Ruiz
Ruiz was Second Team All-Big Ten as a junior in 2019,, but he graded out as the best pass blocking center in the country, according to Pro Football Focus. (On a side note, despite being the #2 center in the Big Ten, he was the first center picked in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft, while the #1 center in the Big Ten was picked in the 4th round.)
OFFENSIVE GUARD: 2019 Mike Onwenu
Onwenu improved by leaps and bounds throughout his career. While Kyle Kalis received better accolades (Second Team All-Big Ten in 2016), I thought Onwenu was better in 2019 despite only being named third team all-conference. Onwenu was a brick wall at right guard.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE: 2019 Jalen Mayfield
Mayfield struggled a little bit to start the year in 2019, but as soon as he caught up to how quickly the game was moving, he was a stalwart at right tackle. His performance spurred talks from Mel Kiper, Jr. that he could be a first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
For more articles like this, check out:
- All-Rich Rodriguez Offense
- All-Rich Rodriguez Defense and Special Teams
- All-Brady Hoke Offense
- All-Brady Hoke Defense
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