The University of Michigan Wolverines look to build on their impressive 2021 season that ended with a trip to the 2021 College Football Playoff. They lost to the eventual national champion Georgia Bulldogs, who defeated Alabama in the title game.
But making the playoffs in a season where no one was giving them a chance is still an impressive feat. And honestly, after defeating Ohio State in "The Game," the rest of the Michigan football season didn't matter. The cherry on top? Aidan Hutchinson going to the Detroit Lions with the second-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The question is, can they do it again? Michigan was the lone Big Ten representative in the playoffs last season. Add to it losing leading receiver Ronnie Bell to injury in Week 1, and this was a true Cinderella team.
But now we move to 2022. They have a favorable schedule and one of the best offensive lines in the country. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has finally shown he can produce in Ann Arbor, getting the years of missed playoffs off of Michigan's mind. What's next for Michigan? Run it back and win the whole thing. Here are five Michigan football players who can help the Wolverines focus on bringing another Big Ten title and a national championship back to the Big House.
Ryan Hayes, OT
The 6-foot-7, 307-pound senior may be the most pro-ready Michigan player in 2022. As a three-year starter, he has earned All-Big Ten honors in each of his last two seasons. He has a dangerous combination of quickness, footwork and the ability to get low. As one of the main protectors of Wolverine QBs Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy up front, Hayes will be a key cog in Michigan's ability to run the football effectively this season.
Blake Corum, RB
With Hassan Haskins' departure for the NFL, that leaves Blake Corum as the veteran running back in Ann Arbor. Coach Harbaugh likes to employ a "thunder and lightning" approach with his running back room as we saw with Haskins and Corum a season ago. Expect a split between Corum and Donovan Edwards in 2022. What Corum brings to the table is speed. When he can get to the outside, he finds a second gear and becomes almost untouchable. A breakout college career of 1,029 yards and 13 TDs in two seasons earned him third-team All-Big Ten honors. Blake Corum will undoubtedly be one of the impact playmakers for the Wolverines this season.
Ronnie Bell, WR
Wide receiver Ronnie Bell looked to be off to a great start in 2021, hauling in a 76-yard touchdown pass in the season's first game against Western Michigan. However, he would tear his ACL in that very game, ending his season in the process. Without the dangerous wideout, Michigan had to lean on Cornelius Johnson and Erick All. But Bell is back for 2022 and should be one of the top weapons in a loaded receiver corps. Bell was Michigan's leading receiver in both 2019 and 2020 and should easily lead the way in 2022.
Olusegun Oluwatimi, OL
The offensive line is far and away Michigan's top strength this season, not to take away from the other positions. However, with Olu Oluwatimi, they have yet another O-lineman heading into his third season as a starter. Starting each of the last three seasons at Virginia, the 6-foot-3, 310-pounder has earned All-ACC and All-America honors. The center will anchor this veteran offensive line as they look to establish the run game early and often.
Zak Zinter, OG
Stop me if you have heard this one before: A Michigan offensive lineman heading into his third year as a starter. Enter Zak Zinter. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound guard earned All-Big Ten honors twice. The offensive line was a key component to Michigan's playoff berth last season and will be a major factor in their success in 2022.