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Quarterback Roundtable: Rallying Around Speight, Talking Dual-Threat Recruits

Capitol One Orange Bowl - Florida State v Michigan Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Nick: Hey, guys. So we’re going to roundtable through all the positions this summer, talking about various storylines that are worth exploring. Let’s get started with the obvious question that’s gotten a lot of ink already - how the quarterback race is going. First off, who’s your pick for starter, and how do you think it will play out?

Eric: I’ll go with Wilton Speight. Harbaugh trusts him, knows what he’s getting and is still giving him starter reps. As long as the line holds up reasonably, we should see similar results to what we got from him pre-injury. One poor Spring game doesn’t change any of that. And if the o-line is struggling, Speght is probably the best option back there because of his ability to move the pocket and to run. Harbaugh has too many new pieces to fit in to roll the dice on QB as well.

Jared: It is definitely going to be Wilton Speight when it is all said and done. I think we can at least all agree that we now know that Speight does not have the highest ceiling of the quarterbacks on the roster, but he certainly gives us the best chance to win right now. Before his injury, Speight was playing above average ball and really looked like he was getting ready to turn a corner. He was a shell of his former self after the injury, making poor reads and spraying the ball all over the field. If he comes back healthy, he is an above average starter in the B1G.

It wasn’t that long ago Speight was putting up 292 yards in a half against Maryland.

Andrew: I’ll say Wilton Speight will start the season, but Peters will start on the last Saturday of November (Chazz Michael Michaels level, “BOOM!”). Wilton Speight was one of the best quarterbacks until he was injured last season, but since the injury, he just has not been there mentally. Errant throws, bad reads, and sloppy mechanics, Speight will start against Florida but must at least play as the quarterback from early 2016. I predict Peters will be the backup and my boy John O’Korn, who is secretly Alex Moran reincarnated, will be third string.

Kullen: I agree with the rest of the gang, Wilton Speight will be the starting quarterback against Florida in Dallas, Texas. I think Peters is clearly more talented, but Speight brings in the most important quality when dealing with a young team -- experience. Speight was excellent before the injury at Iowa and proved he can lead this team. Give him an offensive line and a running game, and he might win some hardware.

Nick: Something that doesn’t seem to help is the conflicting reports about how Brandon Peters is doing - which makes sense, actually, given that he’s a young guy manning a challenging position. Of course he’ll be up and down during spring. But he’s still an All-Big Ten guy once he takes over, yeah? Maybe more? How high is his ceiling?

Eric: Having seen Peters in Rome first hand, he just isn’t there. Or at the very least, factoring in his Spring game, he’s not there consistently enough to warrant displacing Speight. I actually think O’Korn is Plan B if Speight falters.

Jared: I unfortunately was not in Rome, so I cannot speak to Peters’ performance to close out the Spring, but it would make sense that the older guys were putting a little distance in the competition. I think it should also be noted that some guys don’t really “show their stuff” until the bright lights come on, and that could possibly be the case with Peters. The Spring Game was the most visible opportunity he has had to show what he can do, and he capitalized. Now (somewhat) behind close doors, it seems he has cooled off a little bit.

As far as his ceiling, I honestly think it is limitless. I was parading through the streets on a float of Brand Peters likeness immediately after the Spring Game, ranting and raving about how this kid was making NFL caliber throws already. That much can’t be taken away from him, some of those throws were NFL-esque, but I think we can now all agree his is still probably a year away. If Speight is still around next season, he will have to really impress to hold off the hard charging youngsters vying for the position.

Photo credit: Dustin Johnson, Maize n Brew

Andrew: Peters is a young kid who is going to have many ups and downs. Rome is an understandable place to struggle as his mind was probably on meeting the Pope, or seeing the Coliseum, or anywhere but playing football. His ceiling is incredibly high, first round NFL Draft high, but for now he is still developing. My God was he unbelievable in that Spring Game though!

Kullen: The only time I’ve seen Peters play was in the spring game, where he looked like an All-American at times. But you have to keep in mind the game is a glorified scrimmage with starting units split up and play books barely being touched. From what I’ve seen, he has a very strong arm with excellent accuracy at times. You match that with his mobility for a pro-style quarterback and you have yourself a true weapon.

However, he needs more time to refine a few areas and grow as a leader overall. He just isn’t there yet and Michigan has too many other young guys playing this season they’ll have to be patient with. It think Peters will get his chance either next season or 2019 for sure and will be an All-conference type of quarterback. Especially with the insane amount of weapons he’ll have at his disposal.

Poll

Who’s starting for Michigan against Florida?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Wilton Speight
    (929 votes)
  • 12%
    Brandon Peters
    (141 votes)
  • 2%
    John O’Korn
    (23 votes)
1093 votes total Vote Now

Nick: What do you think about Harbaugh being willing to hunt for dual-threat quarterbacks? Will fans be receptive if Harbaugh gets a commitment from a guy like that one of these years?

Eric: Absolutely. Look what he did with Kaepernick. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see him rotate someone like that in for a few plays each game even during their early years.

Jared: I absolutely love it. The college game is built for mobile quarterbacks, and Harbaugh is just the guy to help get every ounce of ability out of a guy at the position. Recent commit Joe Milton has a fantastic blend of pro style and mobile quarterback traits, and I think this dude is going to be a stud. Fans should be receptive of whatever Harbaugh does at this point. Trust in the khakis people, they won’t steer you wrong.

Andrew: THE QUARTERBACK WHISPERER WILL DO WHAT HE WANTS AND WE WILL LOVE IT. No one understands the quarterback position like Harbaugh and honestly, he could probably make one us a decent quarterback (at least better than Tyler O’Connor). Kaepernick is an easy example and mobility at the quarterback position is becoming a necessity at the college level. If Nick Saban, whose Trump-level stubbornness subsided for Jalen Hurts to become the starter, than that shows how widespread the thrill of the dual-threat is becoming.

Poll

If Speight locks down the starter job vs. UF, is it likely Harbaugh makes a change partway through the year?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Not at all
    (120 votes)
  • 61%
    It’s possible, but not likely - pretty much just an injury
    (572 votes)
  • 25%
    It’s reasonable to consider, and Peters will have a lot of time to grow during summer and fall
    (234 votes)
926 votes total Vote Now

Kullen: I once again agree with the other guys that I LOVE how Harbs is looking for a dual-threat quarterback. You can’t be a one-trick pony QB nowadays unless you’re Tom Brady and blessed with several other gifts. You need to be able to run in certain situations and avoid pressure to keep plays alive.

Harbaugh proved he can work with any type of quarterback when he made Collin Kapaernick a pro bowler and got to the Super Bowl. He changed up his system to match his running ability and the 49ers had an elite option offense. In college football, it seems like the teams with dual-threat quarterbacks often have better success. Look at this year’s National Championship with Jalen Hurts and Deshaun Watson.. You give Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton a guy like that… watch out!

Nick: What do you think Michigan needs in 2018? It seems Harbaugh is going to be hunting for two quarterbacks. What do you think about that? Does that kind of imply that Speight might start this year, then go to the NFL?

Eric: Given the shortage of scholarships this coming year, and some other areas of need, I’m a bit surprised he’s looking to take two. But that does seem to be the case.

Jared: I have to agree with Eric in that I am a little surprised with that as well. McCaffrey probably redshirts this year anyways, so next years depth chart could (potentially) look like; 1. Speight, 2. Peters, 3. McCaffrey, 4. Milton 5. *Shough/Unknown.

Those are a lot of guys that would all probably be the number one option at any other school and will still all have a bunch of eligibility left (minus Speight). If I am Tyler Shough, or any other quarterback Michigan might target as a 2nd 2018 recruit, I would have to seriously consider what my playing time possibility might look like on that kind of depth cart.

Andrew: Two quarterbacks is surprising and honestly has me confused. It makes me think that Harbaugh is still searching for that guy. In my opinion, Michigan can never have enough talent on the offensive line or defensive line. Harbaugh should begin in the trenches first and foremost and work his way out. But clearly, he knows something we don’t.

Kullen: Michigan only needs one quarterback in this class and they could even manage without that. The Wolverines are perhaps more loaded at the position than any team in the country and seemingly have their next four options lined up. I love the addition of Joe Milton along with McCaffrey for the future and Michigan already has its guys for the next two seasons (at least) with Speight and Peters. Like the other guys said, this will be a smaller class due to the lack of available scholarships, so I want those to other areas of need. Areas where more than one guy plays at a time. The Maize and Blue are good at quarterback for a LONG time.