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Michigan Football 2015 Position Review: Quarterbacks

Jim Harbaugh is a quarterback whisperer, and it certainly showed in 2015.

Jim Harbaugh, quarterback whisperer
Jim Harbaugh, quarterback whisperer
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback, surprisingly, was Michigan's strong suit offensively during Jim Harbaugh's first year as head coach.

Wilton Speight displayed some clutch qualities on a wacky Halloween night, Jabrill Peppers got in on the fun and Shane Morris was given clipboard duties.

But most of all, Iowa's misfit, Jake Rudock, posted one of the best seasons by a signal caller in program history.

With the season now over, it's time to look back and exam Michigan's positions. In this installment of Maize n Brew's position reviews, we take a look at quarterback.

Rudock took the midwest by storm in his final five games as Michigan's quarterback. But it wasn't always that simple.

When Rudock transferred to Michigan last summer, he was considered a game manager. He lost his starting job at Iowa to C.J. Beathard and not much was expected at Michigan. It was more-so a gap year; just get by until Harbaugh could find his quarterback to mold for 2016.

And at first, that seemed like a fair assessment. In his first eight games as the Wolverines' signal caller, Rudock passed for 1443 yards and six touchdowns to seven interceptions. He wasn't able to make the deep pass and would underthrow receivers. When made available to the media after home games, Rudock would be grilled with questions regarding these issues.

But when Rudock walked down the tunnel before Michigan's game against Rutgers on Nov. 7, he did so a completely different quarterback. He completed 72 percent of his passes for 337 and two touchdowns in a lopsided win over the Scarlet Knights.

At the time, it was the best performance of his career. But it would be topped the following week against Indiana.

Michigan needed a win to remain in the Big Ten east chase and things looked bleak. But Rudock kept slinging the ball and made impressive passes (including the deep ball) to lead the Wolverines to a double overtime win. His final line against the Hoosiers: 33-for-46, 440 yards, six touchdowns and an interception.

In Rudock's final five games, Michigan went 4-1. During that span, he eclipsed the yardage from his first eight games (1443 yards to 1574 yards) and totaled 14 touchdowns. He became the second quarterback to pass for 3,000 yards in a single season in program history.'s Nick Baumgardner tweeted a few nuggets of Rudock's statistical dominance shortly after the Citrus Bowl, and they definitely wow.

First off, Rudock doing what he did against three top 10 pass defenses speaks volumes to his development. No one could have imagined he would become the quarterback that he is today.

The same could be said for Rudock's passer rating exceeding that of Connor Cook, J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and Beathard. Cook and Jones will be selected in the NFL draft, with the former likely being a first-round pick. Barrett was a Heisman candidate last fall and Beathard, well, that's some nice, unintentional revenge.

Rudock wasn't the lone quarterback under center for Michigan this fall, though. Wilton Speight served as his backup after Shane Morris, who was edged by Rudock for the starting gig, redshirted.

Speight appeared in seven games as a reserve. He saw significant time in two of those games, both coming on the heels of a Rudock injury. 

Speight's play against Minnesota kept the Wolverines in the Big Ten east hunt in a hostile environment. He drove them down the field and threw a 12-yard, game-winning touchdown with just under five minutes remaining in regulation.

Oh, and Swiss Army knife Jabrill Peppers played some quarterback. He attempted one pass and scored a rushing touchdown in the wildcat formation.

Enjoy the video in all its glory, for old time's sake.

Harbaugh is known for his impact on quarterbacks. He turned Alex Smith's career around, built Colin Kaepernick into a once-formidable quarterback and coached Andrew Luck before he became the NFL's next great thing.

But Rudock is an interesting case study. The aforementioned quarterbacks all made it to the league. Smith and Luck were number one overall picks. Rudock, on the other hand, wasn't wanted by Iowa and wasn't expected to be anything more than a game manager. His development to what we saw in November is something no one outside Schembechler Hall saw coming.

Rudock has a shot at making it to the NFL, something that many would scoff at until Nov. 7. That speaks volumes of Harbaugh's ability to develop quarterbacks.

Michigan will be looking for a new quarterback next season. That much is known. It's unlikely that it will be Peppers - obviously - or Speight. John O'Korn will be eligible by then, Morris will continue to be in the fold until he no longer is and Michigan could opt for a graduate transfer.

Position grade: A