By RICKY LINDSAY, Sports Editor
Quarterback: the most important position on the football field. The man who wields his arm under center carries the entire weight of a team.
Have a good one and it’s like he isn’t even there. No one notices; it becomes second nature.
Don’t have a capable one and you better start praying for an answer, because they’ll be hard to come by.
Jim Harbaugh has this problem in month three of his tenure as Michigan’s head coach. The Wolverines don’t have a clear-cut answer at quarterback with just under two weeks until the spring game and likely won’t have one until fall camp breaks. There’s been talks of Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock coming to Michigan as a graduate transfer, but we’ll focus on the spring roster signal callers for the time being.
Junior Shane Morris is the lone quarterback at Michigan with game experience, but his 87 attempts in two years is quite paltry. Fans clamored for his name last September, but when Morris did take the field, Michigan’s long-hyped quarterback regressed mightily from an decent showing in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Against Minnesota on Sept. 27 — his only start of 2014 — Morris looked lost, going 7-for-19 passing with 49 yards and an interception before being knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. He’s been heralded for his rocket arm, and he’s displayed it on occasion, but the zip wasn’t there against Minnesota and his throws were widely inaccurate.
Although there’s some work to be done in the offseason, Morris factors to be right at the top of Michigan’s quarterback depth chart until said otherwise. He’s taken the field before and if anyone can rework his issues, it’s Harbaugh, a quarterback guru.
Redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and early enrollee Alex Malzone should be in the thick of things at quarterback with the college game favoring a youth movement.
At 6-foot-6, Speight is the tallest quarterback on Michigan’s roster and his 234-pound frame is capable of taking hits in the rugged Big Ten. Age shouldn’t be a problem with Speight, as he’s just four months younger than Morris. In August I said I’d take Speight over a relatively-inexperienced Morris in 2015, and I have to hold true to that statement.
Malzone’s buzz isn’t anywhere as big as Morris’ was coming out of high school, but he wowed southeastern Michigan as a prep darling. He led Birmingham Brother Rice to consecutive state championships as a sophomore and junior. When his final act came along last year, he excelled, passing for 2,998 yards and 38 touchdowns to earn the Gatorade Michigan Football Player of the Year award.
At 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds, Malzone cannot compare in size to Speight, but he has the pedigree to succeed at Michigan. He broke every major passing record at Brother Rice; achieving a mark like that while competing against future NCAA Division-I players is an incredible accomplishment.
Malzone has turned heads in his first three months on campus. According to 247Sports, Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo raved about the true freshman during a BTN Live appearance.
“I thought freshman Alex Malzone looked the best the one day I was there,” DiNardo said.