Michigan tailback Blake Corum is running like someone who is having fun playing in a backyard game of tackle football.
The 5-foot-8, 210-pound junior looks like he’s enjoying every opportunity to tuck the football underneath his muscular arms. He runs hard. He runs fast. He’s running like he did when he was a senior in high school, where he rushed for 1,266 yards and scored 19 touchdowns while leading his Virginia high school team, St. Frances Academy, to a Top 5 ranking in the 2019 USA Today Super 25.
After five games, Corum leads the undefeated, fourth-ranked Wolverines with 611 rushing yards on 93 carries, including a nation’s best 10 rushing touchdowns. His stellar start, which includes a single-game, school-record five-touchdown effort in a rout of Connecticut in mid-September, has his name being mentioned in Heisman Trophy conversations.
Corum among nation’s top talents
Corum continues to move up the ranks among sportsbooks‘ Heisman favorites.
On Friday, FanDuel had odds of +4000 on Corum finishing the season as the Heisman Trophy winner. On Monday morning, two days after Corum rushed for 133 yards on 29 carries — including a touchdown — in a 27-14 victory over Iowa, FanDuel posted odds of +1800 on Corum being named the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner.
FanDuel lists only Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (+150), USC QB Caleb Williams (+500), Alabama QB Bryce Young (+1000), Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker (+1400), and Kansas State’s Adrian Martinez (+1600) with shorter odds. DraftKings and BetMGM also have odds of +1800 on Corum, who is the top non-quarterback among the favorites to win the Heisman.
Michigan’s top offensive threat is certainly a key factor in the Wolverines sitting fourth behind Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State, respectively, in the latest AP Top 25 football poll.
Mike Hart (@MHart2032) spent a few years around Peyton Manning.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 30, 2022
With Corum making plenty of positive plays for the Wolverines’ offense, Michigan is also becoming more prominent in discussions about teams to be reckoned with nationally. Caesars Sportsbook has odds of +2200 on Michigan winning the 2023 College Football Championship. Caesars has odds of +200 on SEC powers Alabama and Georgia winning it all, while offering slightly worse odds of +250 on Ohio State. Clemson (+1200) and USC (+1400) are the only other teams with better odds than Michigan to win the national title.
On pace for season highs
Corum has a running style similar to that of Michigan running backs coach Mike Hart, who holds the Wolverines’ career rushing record of 5,040 yards amassed from 2004 to 2007.
Last fall, Corum showed signs that he possessed high-level skills associated with a top running back recruit, gaining 952 on 144 attempts, including 11 TDs. Now averaging 122 yards a game on 6.5 yards per carry, he’s on pace to surpass his single-season total by Week 8.
With seven games remaining in the regular season, Corum is on pace to finish with nearly 1,500 rushing yards and more than 20 rushing TDs.
“He’s checking every box you can check. He’s an every down back,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said of Corum during the Wolverines’ weekly press conference on Monday. “He’s a short-yardage back. He’s a versatile back and he can run all the assortment of runs. He can run the inside runs. He can run the outside runs. He can protect, he can block and catch out of the backfield. He’s a five-tool running back. He does it all.”
Corum has come on strong during Michigan’s last three outings. His five-TD effort came on only 12 carries, and he followed that effort by bowling through Maryland’s run defense for a single-game personal best of 243 rushing yards and two scores in a 34-27 triumph.
Against Iowa, he was responsible for nine of Michigan’s 24 first downs, including three third-down conversions and one fourth-down conversion. His effort of 4.6 yards per carry doubled what the Hawkeyes had been allowing ballcarriers to gain on the ground. Iowa entered the matchup with the Wolverines limiting opponents to 2.21 yards per carry.
Michigan plays at Indiana on Saturday. Corum enters the Big Ten contest ranked second in the league in rushing behind Illinois’ Chase Brown, who has rushed for 733 yards on 120 carries, or nearly 30 more touches than the Wolverines’ top rusher.
Corum will face a Hoosiers defense that ranks third-worst in the conference for rushing yards allowed per game at 145.2 yards, portending another strong outing against an Indiana team that lost on Saturday at Nebraska.
Photo: David Reginek/USA TODAY