Michigan freshman running back Donovan Edwards has the potential to be a special player at U-M, having impressed many this spring with his ability as an early enrollee. The prep All-American added to his trophy case this week when he captured Gatorade Player of the Year honors for the state of Michigan.
Edwards rushed for 257 yards in West Bloomfield’s Jan. 25 state championship win, part of a 1,500-yard plus abbreviated campaign. He also caught 149 yards in passes and will likely be a threat out of the backfield, as well.
“Donovan has displayed some unique talent,” Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said this spring. “I think it’s pretty evident the kind of talent that he has through his recruitment. Those types of plays have shown up on the field. He’s an exceptional player with explosive play ability; he’s so versatile in everything he does. He can run the ball and he can catch the ball.”
The Gatorade State Player of the Year award winners are evaluated and selected on the basis of three criteria:
Athletic Excellence – Standout performance in their respective sport made at the high school, club, national or international levels of competition.
Academic Achievement – Review of GPA and class rank, as well as SAT and ACT scores, and academic honors distinctions.
Exemplary Character – Commitment to sportsmanship, character and community through membership and participation in positive activities.
From the Gatorade release:
Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award to be announced in May, Edwards joins an elite group of past state football award-winners, including Emmitt Smith (1986-87, Escambia High School, Fla.), Matthew Stafford (2005-06, Highland Park High School, Texas) and Christian McCaffrey (2012-13 & 2013-14, Valor Christian High School, Colo.).
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior running back rushed for 1,502 yards and 30 touchdowns on 134 carries this past season, leading the Lakers (11-1) to the Division 1 state championship. Edwards also caught 15 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Captain of the Detroit Free Press Dream Team, he was an All-State honoree, a MaxPreps First Team All-American and was named to the 2021 Under Armour All-America Game roster.
Edwards has served as a mentor for at-risk students and has volunteered locally on behalf of youth football programs.
“Donovan Edwards is the most dominant skill player I’ve seen in 23 years of coaching,” said John Blackstock, head coach at Lake Orion High. “He has a unique combination of speed and strength, but what I feel sets him apart is an innate ability to take over a game.”
Edwards will compete with veteran Hassan Haskins and second-year frosh Blake Corum for carries this year. Frosh Tavi Dunlap is also vying for time.
“We’re in a different situation this year,” Gattis said. “We don’t have the depth that we had at running back. I think Hassan and Blake have proved themselves that they’re two elite backs that need to touch the ball as many times as possible.
“As we move forward, I think by situation, I feel very good about those two guys and, obviously, what Donovan and Tavi bring as freshmen.”