I feel really good about my predictions for 2023 and I’m nearly certain they’ll all be correct.
LEADING RUSHER Junior running back Blake Corum had 1,463 yards on the ground in 2022. Unless his surgically repaired knee doesn’t hold up, he’s a good bet to lead the team in rushing again, even with the presence of star running back Donovan Edwards. Edwards should get a lot of rushing attempts and might even top 1,000 yards himself (he had 991 last year), but Corum should still be the #1 guy. Prediction: Blake Corum, 1400 yards
Hit the jump for the rest of the prognostications.
Name: Amorion Walker Height: 6’3″ Weight: 180 lbs. High school: Ponchatoula (LA) Ponchatoula Position: Cornerback Class: Sophomore Jersey number: #4 Last year: I ranked Walker #94 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He played in six games and caught 1 pass for 4 yards. TTB Rating: 81
Walker had quite a freshman year for Michigan, at least from the standpoint of potential. Wide receivers coach Ronald Bellamy and cornerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale fought over him. Jim Harbaugh said he was 157 pounds when he got to campus, so he has put on at least 23 pounds since then. Michigan couldn’t figure out which side of the ball to play him on, so naturally, they played him on both sides. He caught 1 pass for 4 yards during the blowout of UConn, and he played both wideout and cornerback against Hawaii.
This spring Harbaugh went as far as to say that he considered Walker to be a starter. Unfortunately, in the spring game, Walker looked a long way from being a starting-caliber corner. He was beaten multiple times by walk-on receiver Peyton O’Leary, and while O’Leary looks like a legitimate threat for playing time this fall, it’s not so much that Walker was beaten – it’s that he looked flummoxed while doing it. He had a hand-timed shuttle of 6.10 seconds, video of which was posted online, so athletically he’s perfectly capable of staying with almost anyone. But his reaction time and recognition of routes aren’t where they need to be, and he wasn’t physical enough yet in the spring. Perhaps his potential is sky-high, but I think he’s at least a year away from being a quality cornerback. Luckily, Michigan landed UMass transfer Josh Wallace to challenge him, along with guys like Ja’Den McBurrows and Keshaun Harris, who are already on the roster. I do think Walker will start at some point this season, but I don’t expect him to lock down the job, at least not early in the year.
Okay, it’s time to put some thoughts about the spring game on paper.
QUARTERBACK: We know what J.J. McCarthy brings to the table, and Michigan was never going to let him factor into the run game, so whatever. This comes down to thoughts on the backups. After watching Michigan have a good 1-2 punch the past two years with McCarthy and Cade McNamara, there is a big question mark at the #2 quarterback spot in 2023. I thought redshirt sophomore Davis Warren once again outplayed the competition, which comes from Alex Orji and Indiana transfer Jack Tuttle. Tuttle had a couple decent throws and showed some decent athleticism on the run, but Warren is more accurate and probably a better decision maker, despite the fact that Tuttle is a sixth-year player. Orji has decent arm strength but leaves something to be desired when it comes to his timing and accuracy; running is the best part of his game, and he’s a change-up guy. I would put him at #4 on the depth chart.
Name: Amorion Walker Height: 6’4″ Weight: 180 lbs. High school: Ponchatoula (LA) Ponchatoula Position: Wide receiver Class: Freshman Jersey number: #4 Last year: Walker was a senior in high school (LINK). He caught 8 touchdown passes. TTB Rating: 81
Walker was committed to Notre Dame for a long time, but one of the worst kept secrets in recruiting last year was his impending flip to Michigan. Insiders were hinting or flat-out saying he was going to flip, but that it was just a matter of time. And it’s totally understandable why he would ditch the Fighting Irish for the Wolverines, because Notre Dame people are nincompoops.
As for Walker’s accomplishments on the field, he earned offers from Alabama and LSU and was selected for the Under Armour All-America Game. He was a 247 Composite 3-star, the #72 wide receiver, and #526 overall, which all seem to be low rankings for a guy with offers from several powerhouse programs.
The only reasonable explanation for the low rankings is the fact that Walker is only 180 pounds, which is tiny for someone who is 6’4″. Walker enrolled early at Michigan, and Jim Harbaugh raved about him as a football player. I think Harbaugh loves this kid. His high school film makes him look like a greyhound being covered by a bunch of Dachshunds. But with as skinny as he is, I think 2022 will be a year for him to redshirt and get in the weight room. Michigan has plenty of depth at receiver right now to keep him safely on the sideline.
Thanks to Ashley, Eric, Joe, and Stephen for the recent Paypal donations.
As much as we like to get excited about every single Michigan recruit, it’s important to keep perspective and realize that not every one of these players will be destined for stardom. This exercise can give us a range of what to expect from some of these players, even though star rankings can be very wrong.
Will Johnson – CB – Grosse Pointe (MI) South 2022 ranking: #14 Historical ranking: tied for #9 all-time at Michigan Tied with: S Daxton Hill (2019) and DE LaMarr Woodley (2003) Closest positional comparisons: Jabrill Peppers (#3 in 2014) and Donovan Warren (#27 in 2007)
Derrick Moore – DE – Baltimore (MD) St. Francis 2022 ranking: #49 Historical ranking: tied for #37 all-time at Michigan Tied with: OG Kyle Kalis (2012) and RB Ty Isaac (2013) Closest positional comparisons: Pierre Woods (#43 in 2001) and Luiji Vilain (#56 in 2017)
Keon Sabb – S – Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy 2022 ranking: #84 Historical ranking: #64 all-time at Michigan Flanked by: OT Cory Zirbel (#83 in 2005) and #87 Kyle Bosch (2013) Closest positional comparisons: Michael Williams (#72 in 2007) and Demar Dorsey (#87 in 2010)