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Posts Tagged ‘Quarterback’

Michigan quarterback competition highlights fall camp

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

John O'Korn - media day(Justin Potts, M&GB)

Michigan opened fall camp on Monday which means the coaches and players went into a figurative submarine as head coach Jim Harbaugh described it last fall.

“Just to let you know, we’re going into a submarine,” Harbaugh said on the eve of last season’s fall camp. “You won’t hear from us. You won’t see us. We’ll be working. We’ll be in a bunker…until we decide we’re not.”

But there was plenty of talk at media day on Sunday and much of it centered around the most intriguing position battle that will take place over the next three-plus weeks.

Most expect redshirt junior John O’Korn and junior Wilton Speight to duel it out for the right to start behind center when Michigan hosts Hawaii on Sept. 3. And with an experienced team that doesn’t have many more questions entering the season all eyes will be on that quarterback battle.

Speight appeared in seven games last season, completing 9-of-25 passes for 73 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. His most notable outing came in relief of Jake Rudock when Rudock was injured in the third quarter of a tight game at Minnesota last October. Speight engineered the game-winning drive, connecting with Jehu Chesson for a go-ahead, 12-yard touchdown with five minutes remaining.

Speight hopes to build on his game-winning drive against Minnesota last season (Justin Potts, M&GB)

O’Korn has more playing experience, but has yet to take the field in the Maize and Blue. He began his career at Houston where he earned American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors in 2013. He started 11 games that season, completing 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,117 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions. But he hit a sophomore slump in 2014, completing just 52 percent of his passes for 951 yards, six touchdowns, and eight interceptions in five starts. Following that season he transferred to Michigan and sat out 2015 per NCAA transfer rules.

Now, he will look to harness his starting experience under the man who helped Rudock blossom into an NFL draft pick in just a few short months.

“There’s no substitute for experience, not having to run out there and look at the crowd or worry about what a defense is doing,” O’Korn said on Sunday. “I’ve pretty much seen every defense that we’re going to face during my time at Houston on field in a game situation.”

O’Korn had the advantage of living with Rudock last season, learning from the starting quarterback on a daily basis. Despite a slow start as he struggled to get in sync with his receivers, Rudock compiled one of the best seasons for a quarterback in Michigan history. He ranked second all-time in completions (249), second in yards (3,017), and set the single-game touchdown record with six against Indiana. O’Korn gained a valuable perspective watching him in 2015.

“Jake’s a guy that’s not going to say a lot, but just watching him and how he operates. I lived with him so I saw what he was like every single day, in preparation for a game, that kind of stuff. He was a guy that just came in every day, kept his mouth shut, and worked his butt off, and that’s something that I want to try to do too.

“The thing about Jake is that all of us knew that he was going to be that good. It just took a few weeks to get everything in sync. Whoever plays (this season) is going to have the same success this year if not more.”

Like O’Korn, Speight is ready to call on his experience as he looks to win the job.

“That was huge,” Speight said of his performance in the Minnesota game last season. “To be able to go into a hostile environment on the road like that in a rivalry game. I built on that a lot. Coach Harbaugh kept reiterating that I was able to do that and why not again and why not this season. I felt good about that performance, but I know I can do more and hopefully this season I can kind of show that.”

Quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch also sees a difference in Speight from a year ago and is challenging the Richmond, Va. native to continue to grow.

“Wilton is somebody who has really matured over a year,” Fisch said at media day. “I think that going into last year’s camp he was a much different person than he is going into this year’s camp. He’s mature, he’s taken on a lot of responsibility. The obvious game against Minnesota gave him a ton of confidence and he’s just excited about it. He’s excited about the fact that that’s not going to be the only touchdown he ever throws for Michigan. I think that’s his mindset — that that’s not going to be my last touchdown.”

But with all the talk of Speight and O’Korn, Fisch is quick to point out that there are other quarterbacks on the roster and they’ll all get a chance to earn the job.

Jedd Fish

Jedd Fisch was quick to point out that the QB battle isn’t limited to just Speight and O’Korn (Justin Potts, M&GB)

“I think we have two guys that are doing really well and another two guys that are right there continuing to compete for it. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that it’s in between just two guys. We’re not going in thinking that way. There’s an opportunity to go out there and take this job. Nothing’s given to anyone. They’ve had April 1 or 2 — whenever our spring game was — they had from that day to tomorrow on their own to figure out a way to go become the starting quarterback at Michigan. And that’s pretty cool.”

Senior Shane Morris is still vying for a chance and true freshman Brandon Peters — who enrolled early and participated in spring ball — has as much upside as any of them.

As of Sunday, Fisch was unsure of how the fall practice reps would be split, but he was sure about what he will be looking for out of the eventual starting quarterback.

“There’s a lot of things you have to look at, but the number one thing is can you lead the team to score? Can you lead the team in practice? Can you move the football? Can you not just have flashes but can you have consistent good days — one after another after another? Can you have a move the ball period that’s unscripted? Can you go from the 20 to the 20 or from the 50 to the goal line, wherever we start can you just make first downs?

“The guy that does the most of that will really give us a great chance. And then how they lead the team, how they command the huddle, how they act in meeting rooms, do they have a moxie about them? And what’s the end result?”

Yesterday, four guys began their quest to become Michigan’s starting quarterback. And while Fisch wouldn’t completely rule out the competition lasting into the season, he said he would be surprised if that happened. Speight, meanwhile, is ready for the healthy competition.

“Obviously it’s not all going to be daffodils and dandelions. It’s going to get competitive. It’s going to get heated. But at the end of the day we all respect each other.”

O’Korn agreed that the competition will be strong.

“The nature of our quarterback competition is that there are three of us that could probably be starters at 125 different schools across the country and for some reason it wound up that all three of us are here. So somebody’s got to play.”

And although the quarterback position is a question mark at this point, whoever wins the job will succeed, says O’Korn, for one key reason.

“We have the best coaches in the country with Coach Fisch with us every day, Coach Harbaugh — who played 14, 15 years in the NFL — and Coach Drevno with the running game and play calling,” O’Korn said. “The combination of those three is kind of a three-headed monster. We’re going to be prepared every week. We’re going to be ready to play.”


New in Blue: 2017 QB Dylan McCaffrey

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Dylan McCaffrey(Ray Chen,

Dylan McCaffrey – QB | 6-5, 200 | Littleton, Colo. (Valor Christian)
ESPN: 4-star, #1 QB Rivals: 4-star, #6 QB 247: 4-star, #2 QB Scout: 4-star, #3 QB
247 Composite: 4-star, #2 QB
Other top offers: Stanford, UCLA, LSU, Duke, Nebraska, Washington, Washington State, Penn State

Michigan’s 2016 recruiting class is less than two weeks old, but Jim Harbaugh reeled in another big fish on Monday evening when Littleton, Colo. quarterback Dylan McCaffrey announced his commitment to the Wolverines via Twitter.

The son of Denver Broncos legend Ed McCaffrey, and the younger brother of Stanford running back — and 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up — Christian, is the second-best quarterback and 45th-best overall player in the 2017 class per the 247 Sports Composite. ESPN ranks him the highest as the best quarterback in the class and 25th overall. 247 ranks him second and 47th, while Scout has him third and 39th, and Rivals sixth and 114th.

McCaffrey led Valor Christian to the Colorado Class 5A state title this past fall for the second straight season. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound star threw for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He also rushed for 592 yards and 13 scores en route to being named the Class 5A player of the year.

McCaffrey has scholarship offers from Stanford, LSU, UCLA, and Washington, among others. Assuming his commitment holds until next signing day, he will be a big recruiting asset for Harbaugh. One five-star receiver already took notice.

Peoples-Jones is the top rated receiver and ninth-best overall player in the class according to 247 Composite. The Cass Tech star’s recruitment should come down to Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.

McCaffrey joins running back Kurt Taylor, offensive lineman Ja’Raymond Hall, tight end Carter Dunaway, and defensive back Benjamin St-Juste in the young 2017 class. He provides a great one-two punch along with 2016 signee Brandon Peters for the future of Harbaugh’s signal-callers. By the time he gets to campus, Shane Morris and John O’Korn will be fifth-year seniors Wilton Speight a true senior — assuming all are retained — Alex Malzone will be a redshirt sophomore, and Peters a likely redshirt freshman.

There’s a long way to go until Feb. 1, 2017, but McCaffrey gives Harbaugh a key piece to build around.

Predicting Michigan 2015: The quarterbacks

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015


Shane Morris(Tony Ding, AP)

For the past few years, Michigan was haunted by underwhelming performances at the most important position on the football field: quarterback.

While Devin Gardner showed flashes of brilliance and put together a few heroic games, like his 451-yard, 4-touchdown effort against Ohio State in 2013, he never really blossomed into the talent his five-star recruiting ranks hinted at.

Now, with the dual-threat era of Gardner and Denard Robinson firmly in the rear-view mirror, Michigan will look to get back to its John Navarre and Chad Henne-type roots under new head coach Jim Harbaugh.

He’ll certainly have options. Harbaugh brought in a slew of potential contributors under center, likely hoping at least one of them will turn into a quarterback worthy of leading the Maize and Blue.

Potential starters

Though no one is ever really sure what Harbaugh will do, it appears he’s got a two-horse race for the starting job in 2015. His options could hardly be more different.

Jake Rudock

Fifth-year senior transfer Jake Rudock will battle Shane Morris for the starting spot this fall, bringing experience to a position severely lacking it (Charlie Litchfield, The Register)

On one hand, Shane Morris enters his junior season after a disappointing — though incomplete — sophomore campaign. While called upon to lead Michigan during Gardner’s struggles, Morris simply couldn’t get the job done. He completed just 14 passes in 40 attempts on the season and threw more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (zero).

Morris was considered one of the finest prospects in the country during his junior year of high school when he committed to the Wolverines. But after missing his senior season due to a battle with mononucleosis, some of the steam evaporated from his arrival in Ann Arbor.

Morris has one of the strongest arms Michigan has seen on the football field, but his greatest challenge is knowing how and when to use it. He showed some improvement during the Spring Game, when he dialed back at times and found receivers with a soft touch he hadn’t shown on any previous Saturday.

Morris’ stiffest competition will come from senior transfer Jake Rudock, who left the Iowa Hawkeyes to join Michigan for his final year of eligibility.

Rudock was solid in his final season at Iowa a year ago, completing 61.7 percent of his 345 passes for 2,436 yards, and 16 touchdowns. The greatest advantage for Rudock is his tremendous ball protection: He threw just five picks last season, a huge upgrade over Gardner’s 15.

While Morris’s ceiling is certainly higher than Rudock’s, the fifth-year senior offers a much safer bet for a team that hopes to rely on its defense and rushing attack to lead the charge. Rudock finished in the top five in the Big Ten in passing touchdowns, passing yards, and passing completions last season. With that kind of production under center, Michigan’s 2014 season would have been a much different story.

Who will win the starting job? It’s unlikely that Rudock would burn his final year of eligibility transferring to Michigan unless he was certain he’d be the No. 1 guy. Though nothing is set in stone, Rudock offers a far more polished quarterback for Harbaugh in his first season, which is sure to come with unrealistically high expectations.

Iowa fans were often frustrated by Rudock’s tendency to dink and dunk the ball, pleading for more passes downfield. But Michigan fans, who’ve not seen an organized passing attack since 2007 will appreciate Rudock’s touchdown-to-interception ratio and career 60.3 percent completion percentage.

Projected Stats – Rudock
Passing Yards Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yards Rush TD
2,300 17 7 60.0% 185 3
Career Stats
2014 2,436 16 5 61.7% 176 3
2013 2,383 18 13 59.0% 218 5
2012 0 0 0 N/A 0 0
2011 0 0 0 N/A 0 0
Totals 4,819 34 18 60.3% 394 8
*All at Iowa
Projected Stats – Morris
Passing Yards Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yards Rush TD
250 3 3 55.0% 35 0
Career Stats
2014 128 0 3 35.0% 28 0
2013 261 0 2 61.7% 40 0
Totals 389 0 5 49.4% 68 0


The most obvious difference in Michigan’s quarterback unit heading into 2015 isn’t the standout talent at the top; it’s the quality of arms lower on the depth chart.

Michigan brought in a pair of highly-talented freshmen to add to the mix in Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry.

(Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

True freshman Alex Malzone battled Shane Morris in spring camp, but shouldn’t factor into the upcoming season (Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

Malzone was ranked the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the state when he committed to Michigan, tossing 38 touchdowns and completing 67.6 percent of his passes for 2,794 yards as a senior at Brother Rice High School. He enrolled early and went head-to-head with Morris in Michigan’s Spring Game, struggling to find receivers but showcasing his excellent arm strength. He completed 15-of-27 passes for 95 yards, but was tagged for a pair of interceptions.

Malzone will benefit from sitting behind Rudock and Morris in 2015, using the time to get used to the speed of the college game.

Harbaugh’s first quarterback commitment t0 Michigan came from Gentry, who flipped from Texas to the Wolverines on Jan. 24. Gentry, a four-star recruit from Albuquerque, N.M., is a towering 6’7″ and weighs 230 pounds. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards his senior season and ran for over 1,000 more. He scored 48 total touchdowns that season – 26 through the air and 22 on the ground.

But don’t expect Gentry to be a typical dual threat quarterback at Michigan. His size and athleticism powered much of his rushing success in high school and his elite arm strength will be his main weapon at the college level. Gentry has a quick release and a strong gun, which will give him a shot to compete for the starting spot in 2016. That being said, he likely won’t have much of an impact as a true freshman, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Harbaugh slapped a redshirt on this young phenom this fall.

Perhaps the only quarterback in this group that could have a major impact on Michigan’s 2015 season is redshirt freshman Wilton Speight, who was injured during the spring and didn’t play a snap in the Spring Game.

Speight, a former four-star recruit who started in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game, threw for 5,879 yards and 68 touchdowns in his final two high school seasons and gives Harbaugh another physically imposing option. At 6’6″, 235 pounds with a powerful arm, Speight is primed to dominate the college game if he can crack the lineup.

Speight is probably on the outside looking in as far as the battle for the starting job goes, but don’t count him out just yet, as he’s got all the tools to be the No. 1 guy.

Projected Stats – Speight
Passing Yards Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yards Rush TD
300 5 2 60.0% 15 0
Career Stats
Redshirted in 2014
Projected Stats – Malzone
Little, if any, playing time
Projected Stats – Gentry

Meet the rest

Four other quarterbacks fill out the roster, but it would take a catastrophic turn of events for any of them to see the field this fall.

Brian Cleary, senior, 6’3″, 205 from Gross Point, Mich. (Detroit Jesuit), no career stats
Joe Hewlett, sophomore, 6’0″, 192 from Novi, Mich. (Northville), no career stats
Matt Thompson, sophomore, 6’5″, 214 from Cincinnati, Ohio (Indian Hill), no career stats
Garrett Moores, junior, 6’3″, 211 from Detroit, Mich. (Detroit Catholic), no career stats

Do you agree with these projections? Do you see the quarterback race turning out much differently? We’d love to hear your opinion. Post your stat predictions in the comments below.

New in Blue: 2016 QB Brandon Peters

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Brandon Peters(D. Kevin Elliott, Indy Star)

Brandon Peters – QB | 6-5, 205 | Avon, Ind. – Avon
ESPN: 4-star, #12 QB, 81 grade Rivals: 4-star, #5 ProQB 247: 4-star, #7 ProQB Scout: 4-star, #20 QB
Other top offers: Wisconsin, LSU, Nebraska, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Indiana, Boston College

On the eve of the first spring game of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure, the legendary Michigan quarterback received his first commitment for the class of 2016 in the form of Avon, Ind. signal-caller Brandon Peters. The 6’5″, 205-pound quarterback tweeted out the news late Friday night.

Peters is a consensus four-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services. Rivals ranks him the highest as their fifth-best pro-style quarterback in the 2016 class, while 247 ranks him seventh, ESPN 12th, and Scout 20th. In terms of national rankings, 247 has him the highest as the 157th-best overall recruit. ESPN ranks him 181st with an 81 grade and Rivals has him 211th.

Scout likes Peters’ intelligence, pocket awareness, and running ability/mobility, while listing his area of improvement as field vision. Allen Trieu expands on that by saying, “Good height and is continuing to fill his frame in. Is a good athlete who can run and escape pressure, but he also shows good awareness and feel in the pocket. Gets rid of the ball quickly and has the arm to make throws to the sideline and drive the ball downfield. As he gets bigger and stronger, that should only increase. Smart kid, tough, calm under pressure. Must continue to work on reading defenses and going through his progressions.”

As a junior at Avon High School in Indiana last season, Peters passed for 1,876 yards and 21 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He also rushed for 244 yards and five scores.

Peters held offers from LSU, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Iowa among others. He joins offensive lineman Erik Swenson and linebacker Dele’ Harding in the young class. By the time he gets to campus he will join a crowded quarterback group that includes Shane Morris, Wilton Speight, John O’Korn, Alex Malzone, and Zach Gentry.

New in Blue: Houston transfer quarterback John O’Korn

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

John OKorn(Justin Tijerina, The Daily Cougar)

John O’Korn – QB | 6-4, 220 | Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – St. Thomas Aquinas (University of Houston)
ESPN: 3-star, #38 QB, 77 grade Rivals: 3-star, #31 ProQB 247: 3-star, #24 ProQB Scout: 3-star, #38 QB
Other top offers: Wisconsin, Mississippi State, Louisville, Syracuse, Houston, North Carolina, South Florida
*Class of 2013

Less than 24 hours after polishing off his first 14-man recruiting class at the University of Michigan, Jim Harbaugh has apparently added some future insurance to the quarterback position by landing Houston transfer John O’Korn.

Although it hasn’t been made official by the program, the newest Wolverine to be announced the news via Twitter on Thursday.

O’Korn lit up the American Athletic Conference in 2013 as a freshman, setting Houston records with 3,117 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. He completed 58.1 percent of his passes and posted a passer rating of 133 en route to winning the AAC’s Rookie of the Year award.

Following his breakout freshman season, as Smart Football’s Chris Brown pointed out, O’Korn had to adjust to a new offensive coordinator due to Doug Meachem’s departure for TCU, and the entire offense suffered because of it. O’Korn lost his starting role after throwing just six touchdowns and eight picks through five games. The sophomore struggled after starting the season with a four-interception performance in the opener against UTSA.

With a hew head coach coming in this season, former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, Houston granted O’Korn his release in January. Due to NCAA transfer rules, the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native won’t don the winged helmet until 2016 and he will have two years of eligibility remaining. As it stands, O’Korn will likely jump into a position grouping that includes Shane Morris, Wilton Speight, Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry.

Bellomy, Heitzman to transfer from Michigan

Friday, January 30th, 2015


Four days after running back Justice Hayes announced his intention to transfer, new head coach Jim Harbaugh granted two more fifth-year seniors-to-be a release from the program. Quarterback Russell Bellomy and tight end Keith Heitzman both announced on Friday that they will seek a grad-year transfer to play out their final season of eligibility.

Bellomy appeared in six games during his four seasons at Michigan, completing 4-of-23 passes for 46 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. The Arlington, Texas native entered the 2012 Nebraska game late in the second quarter in relief of an injured Denard Robinson and struggled to move the ball as the Wolverines lost 23-9. In that game — the most extensive action of his career — Bellomy completed just 3-of-16 passes for 38 yards and three interceptions while rushing five times for no yards.

He missed his junior season due to a torn ACL suffered in spring practice and came into the Penn State game last season for two series in relief of Devin Gardner. On those series, he went 0-of-2, but most importantly, didn’t make a mistake to take Michigan out of field goal range. Matt Wile kicked a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at 13 late in the third quarter.

Heitzman played in 36 games in three seasons after redshirting in 2011. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he appeared in 12 games as a reserve defensive end, recording seven tackles, one for loss, and recovering a fumble. In 2013, Heitzman started seven games at defensive end and played in all 12, recording eight tackles and half of a tackle for loss. Last season, he moved to tight end and caught two passes for 32 yards and one touchdown, which came against Indiana.

Both Bellomy and Heitzman expect to receive their degree from the University of Michigan this spring before transferring. Neither has picked a destination yet, but both stressed their love and appreciation for Michigan in Instagram posts on Friday afternoon. We wish both the best wherever they end up.

Click here to read Bellomy’s Instagram post. Click here to read Heitzman’s Instagram post.

Recruiting profile: 2015 QB commit Zach Gentry

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Gentry running
(Roberto E. Rosales, Albuquerque Journal)

Previously: 2015 TE Chris Clark, 2015 CB Iman Marshall

Zach Gentry – QB | 6-7, 230 | Albuquerque, N.M. – Eldorado
ESPN: 4-star, #9 Pro-QB, 83 rating Rivals: 4-star, #4 Pro-QB 247: 3-star, #16 Pro-QB Scout: 4-star, #19 QB
Other top offers: Alabama, Texas, Baylor, TCU, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Nebraska, Penn State

Jim Harbaugh’s second commit as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Zach Gentry, is a well-regarded recruit, in large part because of his prodigious size and potential upside. Gentry was previously committed to Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns, dating back to May of 2014, before decommitting earlier this month and committing to Wolverines on his official visit last weekend. Michigan was desperate at the quarterback position coming into this offseason, and now has early enrollee Alex Malzone and the newly committed Gentry appearing to be battling for the starting spot this fall, assuming Shane Morris doesn’t have a miraculous improvement this spring.

Arm Strength

Arm Strength - Zach GentryWhen speaking of towering quarterbacks, rocket-armed passers Joe Flacco and former Michigan Wolverine Ryan Mallett come to mind. It would be unfair to compare Gentry to either of these pros, as he simply does not have the cannon of arm that is expected of signal-callers who are taller than 6’6”. Gentry can stretch the field vertically by 50 yards at best, which is more than enough for most offenses, but is nothing special within itself. He can also throw it with nice velocity and spin to the sideline and over the middle, but isn’t going to sling it through a brick wall. Mechanically, Gentry’s arm action is somewhat of a concern as he has long arms which it make it difficult for him to get rid of the ball quickly and his release point is not always consistent.


Accuracy - Zach GentryIn terms of delivering the football with accuracy and anticipation to his receivers, Gentry is a work in progress. Once again, mechanics are an issue here as too often he will throw off of his back foot and will throw without first setting his feet. These are common issues which will affect ball placement and can be ironed out with coaching. Going back to his arm action, Gentry’s inconsistent release point can hinder his receiver’s ability to track the football out of his hand and cleanly field the ball. On the plus side, Gentry shows good touch on downfield throws and can drop the ball in a bucket when he is on.


Athleticism - Zach GentryAs a high school player, Gentry was a dual-threat, capable of making plays with his legs as well as with his arm, and frequently picking up huge chunks of yardage. Gentry is unlikely to carry this trait over to the collegiate ranks, however, a number of factors considered. While he is able to chew up yards with long strides, he is not explosive and lacks much shiftiness outside of weaving in and out of a straight line. Moreover, Gentry did not play against overwhelming athletic talent in the state of New Mexico, which could inflate how quick he looked on the field. Where Gentry’s ability likely will be able to carry over is his extending the play within and outside of the pocket to buy time to make the throw.


Intangibles - Zach GentryWith a player of his height, Gentry should have no trouble seeing over the line of scrimmage to read a defense (he is as tall as or taller than a lot of collegiate offensive linemen). From that point, however, Gentry is still a work in progress in terms of finding the right receiver to throw to and how patient he is waiting for routes to develop. As is, Gentry has some happy feet and is all too willing to take off and run without first exhausting his throwing options and keeping his eyes downfield should a receiver uncover late. Gentry is still a raw talent and has a lot of room to grow with how he processes the game, and with Harbaugh at the helm Gentry has come to right place to develop his skill set as a signal caller.

Bottom Line

While I may not be as big of a fan of Gentry as many others, there is some definite upside that Gentry brings as a recruit. My biggest concern with Gentry is that his size may have covered up a lot of his deficiencies at the high school level, as so many oversized washout players have had happen in their high school careers. The battle for Michigan’s starting quarterback job should be an interesting one, as it pits evil opposites Zach Gentry, a huge, raw, and mobile passer, against Alex Malzone, an undersized, but polished and accurate signal-caller. I expect the latter recruit to win the job, but Gentry is not someone who should be counted out.

MG&B Grade (out of 10)
8.3 (3-star)

New in Blue: 2015 quarterback Zach Gentry

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

eldo-manzano fb(Jim Thompson, Albuquerque Journal)

Zach Gentry – QB | 6-7, 230 | Albuquerque, N.M. – Eldorado
ESPN: 4-star, #9 Pro-QB, 83 rating Rivals: 4-star, #4 Pro-QB 247: 3-star, #16 Pro-QB Scout: 4-star, #19 QB
Other top offers: Alabama, Texas, Baylor, TCU, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Nebraska, Penn State

Just hours after Jim Harbaugh received his first commitment from defensive end Reuben Jones on Saturday evening, he landed a bigger splash with quarterback Zach Gentry. The Albuquerque, N.M. native and former Texas Longhorns commit flipped his commitment to Harbaugh’s Wolverines during halftime of the Michigan-Wisconsin basketball game and announced it via Twitter.

Gentry is a four-star recruit according to ESPN, Rivals, and Scout, and a high three-star according to 247 Sports. Rivals has him ranked the highest as their fourth-best quarterback in the class and 105th-best prospect overall. ESPN is close behind, ranking Gentry the ninth-best quarterback and 118th-best prospect. Scout lists him as the 19th-ranked quarterback and 278th overall, while 247 has him as the 16th-best quarterback and not ranked in their Top247.

While his ranking varies quite a bit among the recruiting sites, it’s largely because he plays in New Mexico, a state not exactly known for football, so the competition he faces each week isn’t the best. But with offers from the likes of Alabama, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Tennessee in addition to Texas and Michigan, it’s safe to say that if he played high school football one state to the East, he’d be ranked much higher.

Gentry’s size (6’7″, 230) is coveted at the college and NFL level, and with Harbaugh’s guidance he’s in a great spot to become the next great Michigan quarterback. But for now, he’ll enter fall camp as the low man on the totem pole, behind even classmate Alex Malzone, who enrolled for spring semester and will participate in spring practice.

Harbaugh comes home

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Harbaugh 49ers(Getty Images)

Michigan’s football season ended nearly a month ago, but the program landed its biggest win of the season on Monday when San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh landed in Detroit with his family to accept the same position at Michigan.

The move had been rumored for weeks as Michigan insiders gradually raised their odds with each passing day and NFL insiders maintained their stance that other NFL teams would swoop in and land the former Michigan quarterback. But John U. Bacon tweeted the first solid confirmation on Saturday night, ESPN’s John Clayton stated on Sunday morning on ESPN Radio that Harbaugh had begun contacting possible assistants, and Fox Sports college football writer Bruce Feldman confirmed on Sunday afternoon. Harbaugh himself made it official on Monday, a day after closing his 49ers tenure with a 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh will become the 19th head coach in program history (Malcolm Emmons, USA Today Sports)

Former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh will become the 20th head coach in program history (Malcolm Emmons, USA Today Sports)

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in his four years in San Francisco, taking the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVIII, which they lost to the Baltimore Ravens, and the NFC Championship game in 2011 and 2013. His winning percentage of .698 ranks fifth in NFL history behind only Guy Chamberlain (.784 from 1922-27), John Madden (.763 from 1969-78), Vince Lombardi (.738 from 1959-69), and George Allen (.712 from 1966-77).

Prior to the NFL, Harbaugh turned around a suffering Stanford program, taking a team that went 1-11 in 2006 to four straight seasons with improving records. The Cardinal went 4-8 in his first season, 5-7 in his second, 8-5 in his third, and 12-1 in his fourth, finishing second in the Pac-10 and beating Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. He jumped to the NFL following that season, but the roster he recruited went on to records of 11-2, 12-2, and 11-3 in the next three seasons.

Harbaugh did the same at the University of San Diego before Stanford, taking a team that had achieved just 10 seven-plus win seasons since 1956 and going 7-4, 11-1, 11-1 in his three seasons. The latter two were USD’s first double-digit win seasons in program history.

Harbaugh also spent eight seasons as an assistant coach for his father at Western Kentucky while finishing his NFL playing career, and officially began his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2002-2003.

As a player, Harbaugh started 140 games in 14 seasons with the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, and San Diego Chargers. He totaled 26,288 passing yards and 129 touchdowns and ranks second in Bears history in completions (1,023), attempts (1,759), and third in yards (11,567). He was also inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor in 2005.

Harbaugh is most beloved in Ann Arbor for his playing days at Michigan under Bo Schembechler when he led the Wolverines to a 24-4-1 record as a starter. He led the nation in pass efficiency in 1985 while leading Michigan to a Big Ten title and Fiesta Bowl victory. The following season, he finished third in the Heisman trophy voting and was named Big Ten Player of the Year. He became the first Michigan quarterback to throw for 300 yards in a game and finished his career in the top five in passing attempts, completions, completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdown passes.

Harbaugh becomes the 20th head coach in the 136 year history of Michigan football, replacing Brady Hoke, who went 31-20 in four seasons. He will reportedly be officially introduced on Tuesday at a 12 p.m. press conference and again during that afternoon’s basketball game against Illinois, which tips off at 3 p.m.

Stay tuned for more coverage and analysis in the days to come.

Predicting Michigan: The quarterbacks

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Predicting Michigan- Quarterbacks Gardner

In the first season of the post-Denard Robinson era, Michigan quarterbacks suffered from many of the mistakes that made “Shoelace” so inconsistent. Turnovers and mental errors led to Al Borges’s firing in favor of Alabama’s Doug Nussmeier, who will look to construct a more concrete identity for the Wolverines. Nussmeier has plenty of quarterback options to choose from, as Michigan returns its top two candidates from 2013 and adds a talented recruit to the mix.

The Starter

Despite speculation and fan frustration that call for the senior to lose his starting position in 2014, Devin Gardner will certainly be under center for Michigan at the start of the season.

Devin Gardner

Of the 11 games in 2013 in which a Big Ten quarterback totaled at least 350 yards and three touchdowns, Gardner did it five times. No other quarterback did it more than once (Andrew Weber, USA Today Sports)

Gardner took a small step back early in his first full year as the starting quarterback, throwing 10 interceptions in his first six games. The veteran was reluctant to take a sack and threw passes into coverage instead of protecting the ball. A costly interception in his own end zone nearly cost the Wolverines the game against Notre Dame, and similar plays put Michigan behind against Akron and Connecticut.

But Gardner matured during the second half of the season, taking better care of the football and throwing just one interception in six games. Despite playing behind an offensive line that surrendered 34 sacks in 2013, Gardner managed to throw for 954 combined yards against Indiana and Ohio State, showcasing his potential for the 2014 season.

The top priority for Gardner during the offseason was rehabbing a foot injury that sidelined him for the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wing’s Bowl in Arizona. Gardner battled through the injury in a heroic effort against Ohio State, but it ultimately brought a disappointing season to an early close.

Spring competition will benefit the athletic redshirt senior after he coasted through camp as the consensus starter in 2013. A healthy Gardner makes the Michigan offense more dynamic, as he features both an electric arm and quickness in the scrambling game.

Gardner will have to regroup from the loss of his favorite target Jeremy Gallon and mesh with a new-look receiving core. Freddy Canteen has emerged as one of the top targets for Gardner, who demonstrated the tendency to take shots downfield in 2013. Gardner has excellent arm strength, and Brady Hoke has surrounded him with athletic receivers that can beat defenders deep.

Michigan’s starting quarterback also features a unique type of rushing ability, which allows him to extend plays and find teammates downfield. Unlike typical dual-threat quarterbacks, Gardner prefers to stay behind the line of scrimmage and buy time for his receivers to break open. Though this habit often lead to sacks last season, if Gardner can minimize his movement behind the line and avoid defenders near the pocket, he will take advantage of a deeper and more athletic wide receiver unit.

Improvement along the offensive line will offer Gardner more time to throw in 2014, so expect the fifth-year senior to take advantage of an improved overall offense and resemble the quarterback that dominated the Big Ten during the end of the 2012 season. Gardner holds all of the physical tools to be a dominant quarterback and is poised for a bounce back season in 2014.

Projected Stats
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yds Rush TD
2,700 23 9 62% 375 8
Career Stats
2012 2,960 21 11 60.3% 483 11
2012 1,219 11 5 59.5% 101 7
2011 176 1 1 47.8% 53 1
2010 85 1 0 70.0% 21 1
Totals 4,440 34 17 59.7% 658 20

Veteran depth

Shane Morris showed plenty of potential in Michigan's BWW Bowl loss to Kansas State (Christian Peterson, Getty Images)

Shane Morris showed plenty of potential in Michigan’s BWW Bowl loss to Kansas State (Christian Peterson, Getty Images)

Michigan returns two quarterbacks behind Gardner that have taken snaps during their Wolverine careers. Russell Bellomy returns to the lineup after tearing his ACL in spring practice and missing the entire 2013 season. Bellomy most notably took the reins for Michigan against Nebraska in 2012, throwing as many interceptions (three) as completions in 16 attempts.

Bellomy’s struggles ultimately forced Hoke to return Gardner to his original position of quarterback after he started as a wide receiver for the first eight games of the season. Bellomy represents the fourth quarterback option for the Wolverines heading into the season.

The more intriguing option behind Gardner is sophomore Shane Morris, who made a splash during his start in the bowl game last December. Though he failed to record a touchdown, the youngster demonstrated elite arm strength and completed 24-of-38 passing attempts.

Borges featured the former five-star recruit with a diverse selection of passing plays, and Morris looked comfortable running the offense as a freshman. Though Morris is a popular choice to compete with Gardner for the starting position, the electric sophomore is likely to hold the backup spot when Michigan takes the field on August 30.

Projected Stats – Morris
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yds Rush TD
700 7 2 63% 59 0
Career Stats
2013 261 0 2 61.7% 40 0
Totals 261 0 2 61.7% 40 0
Projected Stats – Bellomy
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yds Rush TD
70 0 0 55% 5 0
Career Stats
2013 0 0 0 0 0 0
2012 46 0 4 19.0% 16 0
2011 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 46 0 4 19.0% 16 0


Michigan added one quarterback in this season’s recruiting class: 6’6″, 230-pound Wilton Speight. Speight showcased his accurate arm during the Elite 11 camp in San Francisco last season, and figures to compete with Morris for the starting job in the coming years. The freshman is a prototypical pro-style quarterback, and threw for 63 yards as the starter for Team Nitro in the Under Armour All-American Game.

Speight has flown under the radar leading up to the 2014 season, but provides the closest resemblance to the type of quarterback that Nussmeier coached at Alabama. This freshman made dramatic improvements during his final season in prep school and will play a huge role for Michigan in the near future.