By HANNAH GENIG, Staff Writer
One of the most exciting aspects of the start of the season lies in the competition for starting quarterback. As an accomplished quarterback himself, head coach Jim Harbaugh puts high importance on the selection and development of this particular position, especially considering the success of Jake Rudock in 2015.
#8 John O’Korn- Redshirt Junior
Ever since the end of last season, it has been positively speculated that O’Korn would take over Rudock’s starting position come fall. Considering his performance at Houston, he is definitely the right guy for the job in terms of mobility, strength and experience. O’Korn was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year his first season at Houston and had an impressive 28 touchdowns that year, as well as other passing statistics that rivaled record holders. His lack of consistency and hasty decision-making, on the other hand, continue to be his major downfalls. However, he plans to emulate some of former teammate Jake Rudock’s mindset this year. “He was the guy who just came in every day, kept his mouth shut and worked his butt off and that’s something I would like to do,” said O’Korn. Will this talented quarterback be able to slow the game down and make good decisions in the pocket? Will he follow in Rudock’s footsteps?
#3 Wilton Speight- Redshirt Sophomore
Until late October of last year, it seemed as if Wilton Speight was not on the radar of starting quarterbacks, next to Rudock and Morris. After Rudock was taken out of the game against Minnesota, Speight was chosen over Morris to prove his worth on the field, and he did just that. “Speight had about five plays (last season) and we’re thankful for those five plays because it gave him the ‘I can do this,’” said passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch. The determined Speight has since gained momentum and greatly improved in the off-season, which consequently placed him in the running for the number one spot. Taking into account Michigan’s impressive group of receivers, his consistency and dependability may prove most beneficial.
#7 Shane Morris- Redshirt Junior
Shane Morris has produced somewhat of a disappointing collegiate career thus far. He will begin his fourth season with no touchdowns to show for himself, but plenty of interceptions. Based on Harbaugh’s choice to forego Morris’ skills when he played Speight against Minnesota, it seems like Morris is no more than an afterthought at this point. Despite the unanimous doubt circulating about his skill, passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch spoke optimistically of him at Media Day. “Shane is right there, too. He’s going to get his opportunity and we’ll see. He’ll have to avoid a big mistake.” Will Morris surprise everyone with a big return this fall, or will he try out different positions?
Redshirt Freshman Alex Malzone has experienced problems both on and off the field that will be detrimental to his playing time this season. Not only has he continued to fall short of his competition in spring practice, he has dealt with recent legal issues as well. Despite his skill that we have seen sporadic glimpses of, we should not plan on seeing him in the pocket in the imminent future.
True freshman Brandon Peters was the sixth ranked quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class according to Rivals.com. He played a couple of drives during the spring game in April but didn’t show off enough to earn the starting job in his first season. With a couple of experienced guys ahead of him it wouldn’t be surprising to see Peters redshirt his freshman season.