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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
QB recruiting evolves to fit new scheme

By Chantel Jennings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s quarterback situation this year was a round-hole, square-peg deal no matter how coaches, players or fans tried to look at it.

Denard Robinson was a dynamic athlete and could make things happen, but it wasn’t what Brady Hoke or Al Borges was accustomed to. And when Devin Gardner stepped in, it was a bit more pro-style, but still, not the same as what the pair had experienced success with in the past.

Devin Gardner
Devin Gardner will lead the Wolverines into 2013 as the offense continues to evolve.
Now, the Wolverines will spend the next few seasons adjusting into what will become their offense. And with that adjustment, the main proponent will be whom the Wolverines put at quarterback, and with Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) signed on in 2013 and Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) committed for 2014, Michigan is clearly making moves to change to a more typical pro-style offense.

“I think it was one of the main reasons why I ended up getting the offer, I just fit that mold that they’re looking for,” Speight said. “They would say it over and over that they’re getting away from the dual-threat. They want the dropback passer who can run the pro-style offense.”

Both Morris and Speight typify that type of play. They have the size and arm strength to make the big plays and enough skill with their feet to get Michigan out of trouble when necessary.

And that was key, as Michigan didn’t sign a quarterback in the 2012 class, putting even more pressure on the 2013 class. With Gardner’s medical redshirt in question and his backup being Russell Bellomy (and then walk-on Brian Cleary), the Wolverines needed to sign a top 2013 guy.

“When you don’t scholarship a quarterback one year, you can’t miss on the next year,” Borges said. “He’s got to be a guy that you’re pretty well convinced is the future of your program at that position.”

Morris proved to be one of those top guys for Michigan, despite struggles during his senior campaign. But throughout the past two years he has displayed the qualities that Michigan wants -- a strong arm, a good football IQ and vision.

And Speight shows all those characteristics, too. Before settling on Speight, the Wolverines spent a lot of time evaluating 2014 quarterbacks.

Two other QBs were on the list -- David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) and Michael O’Connor (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy). Early on, the Wolverines had shown some interest in dual-threat Deshone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) but then the Wolverines moved back over to pro-style guys.

And while it was vital to find a strong passer, most importantly, Michigan wanted to find players who showed leadership skills, which both Morris and Speight showed.

“At that position, you’re going to touch the ball every play. You’ve got to have that leadership,” Hoke said.

Picking up talented, pro-style prospects with leadership abilities in the 2013 and 2014 classes was key to Michigan moving forward with its offense. With great offensive line classes in 2012 and 2013 and big pickups at running back and wide receiver, fans might start to see the offense that the Wolverines have steered away from over the past few seasons.