Jim Harbaugh is known for developing talented quarterbacks, a couple of note are Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh’s coaching staff has high expectations, as do the fans, all hungry for the maize and blue to get back on top of the Big Ten and the college football mountain. One of the biggest question marks is who will play quarterback. Jake Rudock had an amazing single season with Michigan leading them to 10 victories and a huge bowl win over Florida.
Harbaugh called this battle for starting quarterback as a “cage match.” He said, “Let’s move from meritocracy to cage match.” This analogy is no surprise since Harbaugh has a passion for wrestling, which we have seen recently with special guest Rick Flair at the Signing With The Stars event and he attended the recent WWE show in Detroit. He also has the idea of brining it to The Big House one day, we will see if he makes this happen.
Here is what ESPN’s Sportscenter posted on Twitter:
Jim Harbaugh could not be more excited about being at WWE Raw tonight. pic.twitter.com/qSyPECTSS1
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 23, 2016
The player who earns the starting QB spot will have nine skilled returning offensive players around him, which is six more than their biggest division competition of Michigan State and Ohio State. They will have one of the highest ranked defenses in the country with seven returning starters and several freshman, including the top rated overall player in the 2016 recruiting class, Rashan Gary.
Let us review the quarterback options for the Wolverines:
John O’Korn played with Houston in 2013 and passed for 3,000 yards. He transferred to Michigan and red-shirted this past season. He will be a junior this year and came out of high school as a three star. According to 247Sports, he is one of the 10 rated quarterbacks for 2016. He is a 6-foot-4, 220 pounder from Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he played high school football with Jake Rudock. He will be the considered the one to beat in this “cage match.”
Shane Morris is entering his junior year with a lot to prove as a local favorite and four star rated quarterback from Warren De La Salle. The hard throwing left-hander has been on a roller coaster career while in Ann Arbor. He said before the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, he is not going anywhere and committed to Michigan. He was at that time 217 pounds and 6-foot-3. He has the most playing time of the group but was under the prior coaching staff and the questionable situation when many feel he played with a concussion. His decision to red shirt for the 2015 season means he has two more years of eligibility.
Alex Malzone is a 6-2, 215 pound red shirt freshman and another local recruit from Birmingham Brother Rice in Michigan. Malzone is another highly rated player out of high school and will look to compete for the starting spot.
Wilton Speight is a sophomore and the backup returning from last year after Morris red-shirted. He is 6-6, 220 pounds from Richmond, Virginia. He completed 36 percent of his passes with a hero style win at Minnesota after Rudock went out of the game. He was a highly rated player in high school and has the size to compete for the job.
True freshman Brandon Peters is also competing for the starting job. This 6-4, 185 pound pro-style quarterback from Avon, IN is coming off an impressive senior season where he won 2015 IndyStar Mr. Football.
Zachary Gentry’s status of a potential red shirt or tight end is still not determined. This 6-7, 230 pound player from New Mexico rushed for 26 touchdowns and 1,103 yards. With is quickness and size he did not hesitate when asked about playing tight end.
After our recent Twitter poll today, the majority feel O’Korn will get the starting job.
— The Wolverine Daily (@WolverineDaily) February 28, 2016
We know the group competing for the starting job will have several talented targets at wide receiver and tight end, along with running backs who can make Michigan a Big Ten title and playoff contender this season. We have seen how Jim Harbaugh has created quick success in the past in college and NFL, so if a quarterback gets established and stays healthy, we could see something special in Ann Arbor this fall.