2024 Spring Football Preview: Running Back

Tag: Cole Cabana

3Mar 2024
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2024 Spring Football Preview: Running Back

Donovan Edwards

2023 Starter: Blake Corum
Losses: Corum, Leon Franklin, C.J. Stokes
Returning players: Kalel Mullings (RS Sr.), Donovan Edwards (Sr.), Tavierre Dunlap (RS Jr.), Cole Cabana (RS Fr.), Benjamin Hall (RS Fr.)
Newcomers: N/A
Projected starter: Edwards

For having lost such a large part of Michigan’s program over the past three years in running back Blake Corum, Michigan’s running game will look pretty familiar in 2024. Corum ran 675 times for 3,737 yards and 58 touchdowns in his career, becoming Michigan’s top career touchdown scorer. But his primary backup, Donovan Edwards, had some huge games at opportune times.

Edwards ran 119 times for 497 yards (4.2 yards/carry) and 5 touchdowns in 2023, and he caught 30 passes for 249 yards (8.3 yards/catch). His entire season was pretty ho-hum . . . except for a 22-yard touchdown in a tight game against Penn State . . . and then two 40+ yard scores against Washington in the national championship game. He goes into the spring as the odds-on favorite to start, but he’s somewhat of a proven commodity. Michigan showed last year that they don’t really want to subject running backs to extra wear and tear, and we even learned that Corum and Edwards basically weren’t tackled all the way through fall camp. We’ll see if the transition to Sherrone Moore as head coach changes that equation at all.

The other intriguing option at running back is former linebacker Kalel Mullings, who has been playing offense since the 2022 postseason. He ran 36 times for 222 yards (6.2 yards/carry) and 1 touchdown, and he even caught 2 passes for 32 yards, including a key 19-yard reception against Alabama in the Rose Bowl. There were times in 2023 when he looked like the more instinctive back, and he’s certainly more adept at breaking tackles.

Second-year player Benjamin Hall was the breakout star of the 2023 spring game, and his one solid showing during the season was a 9-carry, 58-yard performance against Indiana. He’s a bowling ball at 5’11” and 234 pounds, but he’s unlikely to break into the top two at the position. Fellow second-year back Cole Cabana had just 2 carries for 6 yards in 2023 and had some injuries that limited him to one game; at 6’0″ and 198 pounds, he’s a speedster who still has to get his body ready for the college game.

The Wolverines lost C.J. Stokes (transfer to Charlotte) and walk-on Leon Franklin (transfer to Tennessee Tech), so along with Cabana and Hall, expect to see a good-sized dose of guys like walk-ons Henry Donohue (career: 3 carries for 9 yards) and Bryson Kudzal (career: 0 carries) toting the ball to keep Edwards and Mullings fresh for the fall. Kudzal’s high school profile touts a 4.41 forty and a 40″ vertical, but he’s an in-state, small-school product who was a little bit stiff and upright as a runner in high school.

24Jul 2023
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2023 Season Countdown: #59 Cole Cabana

Cole Cabana

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Name: Cole Cabana
180 lbs.
High school: 
Dexter (MI) Dexter
Running back
Jersey number: 
Last year: 
Cabana was a senior in high school (LINK). He ran for 1,518 yards and 27 touchdowns, caught passes for 472 yards and 6 touchdowns, and had 444 return yards and 3 return touchdowns.
TTB Rating:

Cabana was Michigan’s highest rated recruit for much of the cycle. One of the fastest players in the recruiting cycle, he was explosive with the ball in his hands for the past few years. Whether it was running the ball, catching the ball, or returning kicks, he had a chance to take it to the house every time. He ended up ranked as a 4-star, the #10 running back, and #172 overall in the 247 Composite ranking.

Cabana’s best chance to play in 2023, in my opinion, is on kickoff returns. Michigan has the best backfield duo in the country in Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, and I think the coaching staff will focus on getting those guys the ball as often as necessary to win games comfortable and impressive the College Football Playoff selection committee. Fellow freshman Benjamin Hall made a case in the spring to be the third-string running back, but sophomore C.J. Stokes may also be a factor. The point is that Cabana isn’t really needed on offense; this backfield is the same as 2022 when Michigan ran roughshod over almost everyone.

What Michigan lost, however, is punt returner and part-time kickoff returner A.J. Henning. And as part-time kickoff returner Roman Wilson becomes more important on offense after the departure of Ronnie Bell, I’m not sure if the coaching staff will want Wilson returning kicks anymore. So if Cabana wants to see the field in 2023 and doesn’t mind burning his redshirt, I think Michigan should give him a shot to handle kickoffs.

Prediction: Backup running back and part-time kickoff returner

7Feb 2023
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2023 Recruiting Grade: Running Back

Cole Cabana (image via Twitter)


On Saturday I covered the quarterback position, so here’s a look at the running back spot.

2023 NEEDS: 2

2023 COMMITMENTS: Dexter (MI) Dexter RB Cole Cabana, Kennesaw (GA) North Cobb RB Benjamin Hall


  • Jaden Booker – Naples (FL) Palmetto Ridge: Undecided
  • Dalton Brooks – Shiner (TX) Shiner: Texas A&M
  • Jeremiah Cobb – Montgomery (AL) Catholic: Auburn
  • Mark Fletcher – Fort Lauderdale (FL) American Heritage: Miami
  • Justice Haynes – Buford (GA) Buford: Alabama
  • Sedrick Irvin, Jr. – Miami (FL) Columbus: Stanford
  • Kaleb Jackson – Baton Rouge (LA) Liberty: LSU
  • Christopher Johnson – Fort Lauderdale (FL) Dillard: Miami
  • Jaquez Keys – Ironton (OH) Ironton: Wake Forest
  • Jayden Limar – Lake Stevens (WA) Lake Stevens: Oregon
  • London Montgomery – Scranton (PA) Prep: Penn State
  • Samuel Singleton, Jr. – Orange Park (FL) Fleming Island: Florida State
  • Daylan Smothers – Charlotte (NC) West: Oklahoma
  • Dijon Stanley – Granada Hills (CA) Granada Hills: Utah
  • Darius Taylor – Walled Lake (MI) Western: Minnesota
  • Treyaun Webb – Jacksonville (FL) Trinity: Florida
  • Richard Young – Lehigh Acres (FL) Lehigh: Alabama


REASON FOR THE GRADE: Michigan needed at least one running back in the class of 2023 to bump up its scholarship backs from four to five. As we saw this past season, four scholarship running backs leaves Michigan precariously thin at the position. When Blake Corum hurt his knee and backup Donovan Edwards hurt his hand, Michigan was stuck with redshirt freshman Tavierre Dunlap, true freshman C.J. Stokes, position switchers, and walk-ons. That led to an array of plays in which more talented backs would have made Michigan’s season a little easier, such as walk-on Isaiah Gash’s dropped pass against Illinois and converted linebacker Kalel Mullings’s fumble against TCU. Michigan should have at least five scholarship backs on its roster at all times.

So Michigan needed at least one, and then a lot of people expected Blake Corum to leave for the NFL after a highly productive season, bumping up the need to two. Indeed, Michigan landed speedster Cole Cabana (4-star, #10 RB, #161 overall), who might be more of a scat back who can split out wide. And they also took a fairly early commitment from Benjamin Hall (3-star, #55 RB, #781 overall). Hall is the bigger question mark of the two, not only because of his lower ranking, but also because he didn’t start for most of his senior season. Hall is a bigger back (5’10”, 225 lbs.) and lacks great speed. One might expect to see him be a bruising downhill runner, but he bounces a lot of his runs outside and tries to reverse field, which he will not have the speed to do in college.

Michigan tried to get in late on in-state Minnesota commit Darius Taylor, but it was too late to get much movement there. So obviously the coaching staff wanted a third back – or perhaps to replace Hall in the class – but that didn’t happen. That not only solidifies my confidence that Michigan wanted at least two backs, but it makes me question how much confidence they have in the guys they brought in.

Right now the Wolverines are in a good position with Corum, Edwards, Dunlap, and Stokes all returning (for now), plus Cabana and Hall entering the program. Even if someone like Dunlap or Stokes transfers following the spring, Michigan would still have five scholarship guys on the roster.

13Dec 2022
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Visitors: December 16-18, 2022

A.J. Barner (image via Twitter)


A.J. Barner – TE – Indiana: Barner is a 6’6″, 250 lb. starting tight end and captain from the Hoosiers. After spending three seasons in Bloomington, he has two seasons of eligibility left. This season he caught 28 passes for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns. Barner was a 3-star, the #51 tight end, and #1147 overall in the class of 2020. With Michigan losing Erick All (Iowa), Luke Schoonmaker (NFL), Louis Hansen (transfer), Carter Selzer (graduation), and Joel Honigford (graduation), they need some reinforcements at the tight end position.

Josaiah Stewart – OLB – Coastal Carolina: Stewart is a 6’2″, 230 lb. outside linebacker whom Michigan offered when he came out of high school in 2021. He went to Coastal Carolina and had an outstanding freshman season followed up by a pretty solid sophomore year. Now that he’s in the transfer portal, he has two years of eligibility remaining and appears to be choosing between Michigan and USC.

Hit the jump for more.

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