Without Blake Corum, Michigan wouldn’t have cruised through the Big Ten in 2022.

Yeah, the Wolverines were loaded. And yes, it wasn’t always a one-man show. Michigan probably would have won 9 or 10 games without Corum. But going undefeated in the regular season? Would the Wolverines have been that good?

Probably not.

Before suffering a knee injury vs. Illinois, and barely playing the first half against Ohio State, Corum was a Heisman candidate; and not just a local, fan-favorite Heisman candidate, but a nationally recognized star. Many analysts dubbed him as the best running back in the country.

At one time, Corum led everyone in everything. Despite playing just 11 1/2 of 14 games, he still finished as the No. 11-ranked rusher in the country with 1,463 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. In terms of yardage, Brad Roberts of Air Force topped his peers with 1,728 yards — not even 300 more than than Corum, and Roberts needed 13 games to get there.

When it came to rushing TDs, Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim and Pitt’s Israel Abanikanda paced the pack with 20 scores. Ibrahim played in 12 games, while Abanikanda — a short-yardage specialist — played in 11 full contests. They may have outdone Corum in production, but they weren’t scoring from nearly anywhere on the field like Corum. Ibrahim had his share of explosive plays in 2022, but Corum — due to his style — was easily the most exciting to watch.

Had he not been hit with bad luck in the form of injury, Corum could have won the Heisman — and Michigan may have had a better shot at beating TCU in the Fiesta Bowl College Football Playoff semifinal in Glendale, Ariz. It was difficult for him to watch from the sidelines, perhaps even more difficult than not being able to play — other than one snap — during the second half vs. Ohio State; or in the Big Ten Championship Game vs. Purdue.

Corum certainly missed a lot of team success, and it was a success that wouldn’t have reached without his speed, balance and field vision. He could have entered the 2023 NFL Draft but he chose to give things one more go in Ann Arbor.

“I’m a Michigan man through and through,” Corum said during a televised announcement with ESPN’s Rich Eisen. “I love playing for the University of Michigan. I love going to the Big House and leaving it all on the field. I love the community, I love interacting with everyone. It was a tough decision, it was a business decision, but I feel like I have unfinished business.

“I didn’t like the way I went out in the Big House, I don’t like people remembering me being hurt, so I will be coming back for it all next year.”

Michigan is losing some talent via draft entry, and its offensive line will look different without familiar faces such as Zak Zinter. But rest assured that the 2-time, consecutive Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line will be strong in 2023; strong enough for Corum to make another run at another historic season.

Michigan’s backfield personnel won’t look much different next year, and Corum will be the linchpin to another championship run. No question on that end, whatsoever.

As a matter of fact, with Corum returning, the run game will look a lot better — because now it won’t all be on the shoulders of Donovan Edwards, who broke off video-game stats during the final 1/4 of the season. More than 400 yards in 2 games, huge rushing plays such as a game-opening 54-yarder vs. TCU.

“The Don” gave Michigan comfort, to an extent. Michigan knew it had another big-play guy … but let’s face reality: The Wolverines really missed Corum.

At 5-8 and 209 pounds, Corum’s moves remind a little bit of Barry Sanders; that’s not a stretch, either. Even Sanders was a fan during Corum’s Heisman hunt, so take that into account. Watch film and you can see some striking similarities. With that being said, Corum should easily enter the 2023 season as the running back to watch — in the Big Ten and the national level.

Will Corum outdo what he’s already done for the past 2 years? There is no reason to believe otherwise, considering his established track record. For Corum, it’ll be all about staying healthy.

While some thought it would have been wiser to declare for the NFL Draft (this writer, actually), it now appears that it may be just as beneficial for Corum to stay another year. Get the NFL money while you’re young, or bask in the glory of the new NIL age of college football and let the Valiant Club start a fund to essentially pay top players to come back for another season. It’s not called the “One More Year Fund” for nothing.

Figures aren’t available, but with his Wolverine boots endorsement and NIL cash from Valiant and other avenues, Corum might end up making more as a college senior than an NFL rookie. Prior to injury, Corum was projected as a 3rd or 4th-round pick, and those guys aren’t getting the mega-pro money. Most third-rounders top out at around $1.5 million. Considering Michigan’s fan base and resources, Corum will probably make that much by time he leaves Michigan. Earlier reports projected Corum’s NIL value anywhere from $650,000-$1.2 million.

So yeah, why not stay? There are no guarantees in the NFL. Corum, regardless of injury status, will still heavily profit from his name, image and likeness, especially in Ann Arbor.

Michigan needed some good news for a change. A loss to TCU, the whole Jim Harbaugh NFL saga (plus the alleged violations), a few other guys jumping into the draft — the Wolverines have taken loss after loss during the past week. But now, Corum’s return gives Wolverines supporters something to enjoy.

At least they know he’ll be in Ann Arbor next year.