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Michigan Football Mailbag: Where Things Stand in the QB Battle and More

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Taking a look at the quarterbacks of the present, future and Jabrill Peppers' switch to linebacker. Also, ranking the Big Ten coaches.

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News is rather slow this time of year when it comes to college athletics, especially when it comes to football.

We tend to get caught up in off-field drama and storylines this time of year, but even with the season months away, it is never too early to tackle some of the burning topics on the minds of Michigan fans.

It has been awhile seen we opened up the mailbag. Earlier this week, we took questions via Twitter and picked the brains of some of our readers.

Let's dive right in, shall we?

The Latest on the Quarterback Battle

There is nothing really to report on the quarterback battle front following the conclusion of spring football about six weeks ago.

What we all saw coming out of those practices and the spring game appeared to indicate that Wilton Speight was slightly ahead of John O'Korn in the race.

Just because one may have looked better than the other when things were opened to the public does not necessarily mean that is where it stands, but it certainly was notable considering everyone had the transfer from Houston pegged as the guy.

I like Speight and was impressed with how he was able to come in and lead the Wolverines to a win at Minnesota last season. He built on that in spring football and I believe he has a real shot in this competition.

What Speight brings to the table is a steady presence at the position that takes what the defense gives him. There is sometimes a negative stigma that comes with being labeled a "game manager," but he seems to fit the bill here as a guy that won't make many mistakes or lose you football games.

O'Korn may still be the favorite and has higher upside. He has a bit of a better arm and showed he can make plays with his legs in spring football.

Michigan still has definite questions at quarterback, which is not at all unlike last season at this time. There is nothing wrong with giving Jim Harbaugh the benefit of the doubt with how he develops his signal-callers, but they are questions that remain until we see the answers with our own eyes.

The good news for Michigan is that the schedule lines up nicely for them to carry the battle into the fall until things start to heat up when the home stretch of the season rolls around.

The Future QBs

Class of 2016 signee Brandon Peters and 2017 five-star commit Dylan McCaffrey figure to be two of Michigan's future stars at quarterback moving forward. I would expect both to take redshirts in their first seasons with the program. With O'Korn and Speight each having multiple years of eligibility remaining and Alex Malzone and Shane Morris still with the program, there is a bit of a logjam there. Harbaugh is certainly okay with that.

It is way too early to project the futures of either of these young players. Yes, they are both highly-touted recruits, but the slate is wiped clean at the next level and nothing is guaranteed. Remember when Morris was set to be the savior for the Wolverines?

Harbaugh will continue to bring in as many guys as he can and let them compete. Whether it is a five-star or a walk-on, it will be a battle. I'm not trying to prematurely label either as future busts, but it is the reality of the sport that not every player pans out.

It looks like we are in for two years of Speight and O'Korn as the top-two on the depth chart. In 2018, a battle between redshirt sophomore Peters and redshirt freshman McCaffrey will likely take place. Where it goes from there, we shall see.

Peppers' Move to LB

Not sure about Peppers' social media policy, but I do think he is more than fine with where he is anywhere on the field. He is a football player in every sense of the word and would long snap if the coaching staff asked him to.

I like the fit with him as one of those linebacker/safety hybrid players in Don Brown's defense. He should do well there and has the tools to succeed. Make no mistake about it, we will see him all over the field again this fall at multiple positions.

I'm not sure he is a Heisman contender like some have been suggesting, but he is one of Michigan's most valuable players and is likely a first round pick in the NFL Draft if he decides to come out next season, granted he stays healthy.

Ranking the Big Ten Coaches

Challenge accepted. Here we go:

  1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State: Not the popular pick here, I'm fully aware. Meyer is 50-4 in his four season in Columbus, has only lost one game in conference and has a Big Ten and National Championship on his resume. He's an elite recruiter and continues to stockpile talent each season. It would be foolish to not have him at the top of this list.
  2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: Not earning myself any brownie points today with our readers here and that is fine. MSU has won the Big Ten title three times since he has been there and went to the College Football Playoff. He has also led them to five double-digit win seasons and has lost to Michigan only once since 2008. Laugh at it all you want, but the chip-on-their-shoulder mentality has worked just fine.
  3. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: Harbaugh may be the best pure football mind on this list and has been a pioneer for change and shaking up the status quo since he arrived in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines outperformed their expectation last season and are back on the map. To move up on this list, Michigan must beat its rivals and win a conference title for the first time since 2004.
  4. Lovie Smith, Illinois: Smith hasn't coached a game yet at Illinois, but this was a home run hire for them and his NFL pedigree should help the Illini bounce back before too long.
  5. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Some would slot Ferentz here, but Fitzgerald has done a nice job bringing respectability to the program and they have been a thorn in the side of a lot of teams for the last few seasons.
  6. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: After an undefeated season in 2015, Ferentz could be higher on this list, but Iowa has had a rough go of it before last year. We will see what 2016 brings for the Hawkeyes.
  7. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin: Chryst is still rather new to the head coaching ranks, but a ten win season in his first year in Madison was impressive nonetheless.
  8. D.J. Durkin, Maryland: Durkin was a very solid hire for Maryland and I think he will do well there. He was ready to be a head coach before he was hired as Michigan's defensive coordinator.
  9. James Franklin, Penn State: There may not be a hotter seat in the Big Ten right now than Franklin's. It is an uphill climb in the B1G East with the Spartans, Buckeyes and Wolverines at the top. Things could go either way in Happy Valley.
  10. Mike Riley, Nebraska: I never quite understood how Mike Riley was an upgrade from Bo Pelini. Still really don't, but the Huskers won a bowl game last season.
  11. Kevin Wilson, Indiana: The Hoosiers have been so potent offensively, but the exact opposite of that on the defensive side of the football, which has held them back big time. Wilson's program needs to take a step forward soon.
  12. Tracy Claeys, Minnesota: How will Minnesota fare now that the Jerry Kill era is over? Claeys has struggled with clock management and other in-game situations.
  13. Chris Ash, Rutgers: Ash was a good hire for Rutgers coming over from Ohio State, but it is still Rutgers. He has his work cut out for him.
  14. Darrell Hazell, Purdue: Do I need to go into detail here?
So there's my list. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comment section below!