By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
So far this season, Wilton Speight is following in the footsteps of predecessor Jake Rudock. Speight is getting better with each game the Michigan Wolverines play.
But unlike Rudock, the redshirt sophomore quarterback has two more years of eligibility left. Meaning Speight has potentially two seasons learning under one of the best quarterback guru’s in the game, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who thought Speight had his best game yet against Maryland.
“That was statistically and just the eyeball (the first half) was the best half of football I’ve ever seen a Michigan quarterback play, I think the statistics back that up,” Harbaugh said of Speight. “Moving, throwing and accuracy and extending plays all the above I don’t know how you play better than Wilton did. It was a perfect game as a quarterback and that’s really tough to do.”
Speight had a career best 362 passing yards on Saturday which is the eighth most passing yards in a single game in Michigan football history. He also added three passing and one rushing touchdown. Which is his first rushing touchdown at Michigan.
Speight looked comfortable in the pocket – never hurried a throw and evaded defenders to extend plays on multiple occasion.
For standing at 6 feet 6 inches, you wouldn’t think he would be as elusive as he is in the pocket. But the Virginia native said he’s always had that skill.
“Honestly I think that’s always been a strength of my game when I was getting recruited I was able to do that in high school you guys just didn’t seen it because I redshirted and then I was the back-up last year,” Speight said. “I don’t think that’s anything new that’s something I’ve always been kind of good at I’m just now able to showcase that.”
With three games remaining, two of them are on the road in tough environments. Michigan goes to Iowa this week where Kinnick Stadium can be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks – especially at night which is when the game will be played. Then Thanksgiving weekend the Wolverines travel to Columbus to take on the highly ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State.
Speight hasn’t had a lot of road experience in his short career. He led Michigan to a comeback win last season at Minnesota in relief when Rudock went down with an injury, then helped the Wolverines win at Michigan State this season. But outside of those two games Speight has had it easy as the signal caller for Michigan.
But even with the easier schedule, Speight has shown he can control the offense and even make some plays when he needs to. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates who know Speight can be the leader Michigan needs to achieve the goal their chasing.
“It’s great to see Wilton because without him you need a great quarterback to succeed the way we are and Wilton is doing a great job for us,” tight end Jake Butt said.