Michigan football fans have a lot to look forward to in 2017. The expectations are high, the anticipation is mounting, yet Jim Harbaugh hasn’t announced a starting quarterback as we sit here in mid-August. How the quarterback does will be a direct correlation to the hopes Michigan has of appearing in the College Football Playoff.
Earlier this week, Harbaugh said that Wilton Speight and John O’Korn have created separation from the other quarterbacks in the battle for the starting nod. So, we are in the same territory as we were in last year at this same exact time. Speight vs O’Korn.
There are other quarterbacks in the fold, and we have them all covered for you in this position preview.
#3 | RS Junior | 6-6 | 243 | Richmond, Va.
Wilton did a lot of good things as Michigan’s starting quarterback in 2016. Speight led Michigan to 10 victories, and threw for 2,538 yards, 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Where Speight struggled was against top competition at the tail end of the season, losing to both Ohio State and Florida State. In his defense, he was still banged up from a shoulder injury against Iowa and was not fully healed.
Most games, Speight managed them well, limiting mistakes and turnovers. Backed by one of the top defenses in the nation, he wasn’t asked to do much most weeks, as 20 points usually won Michigan the football game. When asked to perform in the clutch, the results were mixed. Sometimes Speight threw balls down the field with pinpoint accuracy, other times the ball sailed and was inaccurate, be it too long or too short of a throw. Against Iowa, Ohio State, and Florida State, he had costly interceptions that drastically impacted the game. Those are issues Speight must overcome if Michigan is to win the Big Ten Championship in 2017.
#8 | RS Senior | 6-4 | 215 | Houston
At this time in August of 2016, there was a quarterback battle going on between O'Korn and Wilton Speight. The competition dragged on for a few weeks, until Speight finally pulled away and won the job. In all, O'Korn appeared in eight games in 2016, seven of which were of the mop-up duty variety. When Speight missed a game against Indiana, O'Korn led the Wolverines to victory in a snow-filled Michigan Stadium, completing 7 of 16 passes, for 59 yards. That isn't the only starting experience O'Korn has.
As a freshman at Houston, O'Korn threw for 3,117 yards and 28 touchdowns. However, his production dipped the following season, where he threw for 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. O’Korn ultimately transferred to Michigan.
O'Korn has a strong arm, is mobile and has put himself in a position to potentially win the starting job this month. Speight won the competition last year, so why would anything change this time around? Well, maybe O'Korn has improved his game over the course of a calendar year. We will find out soon enough, but the fact Harbaugh didn't announce a starter before August practices indicates he believes O'Korn has a shot at the job.
#18 | RS Freshman | 6-5 | 216 | Avon, Ind.
Jim Harbaugh compared Peters to Andrew Luck last season. A great person to be compared to, as Luck was a great quarterback for Harbaugh at Stanford. Harbaugh started Luck as a redshirt freshman. Will Peters follow the same trajectory? In the Spring Game, Peters made some impressive throws, going 9 of 17, for 160 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He also had a 12 yard touchdown run.
While Peters faces an uphill battle to win the starting job, the fact Harbaugh called said the quarterback competition was in a dead heat last month. That bodes well for how good Peters is at the moment, and how great he could become.
Zach Gentry is out here at the spring game putting the secondary on skates.— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) April 15, 2017
The Maize strikes first: https://t.co/BEyAQnfehF
- Alex Malzone is still on the roster, but he isn’t in the conversation to compete for the starting quarterback spot. Peters has surpassed him. Malzone will likely be buried behind Peters on the depth chart.
- Freshman Dylan McCaffrey will likely be redshirted this year, but he will likely be Michigan's quarterback of the future as well. McCaffrey absolutely lit it up in high school and was one of the most sought after quarterbacks in his class. He just needs time to develop. If McCaffrey can add some weight and muscle to his frame and ultimately have a good grasp of the Michigan offense, he could become a special quarterback for the Wolverines.