Wednesday, October 23, 2013
U-M QB commit prepared for next level
By Tom VanHaaren
Michigan has struggled on offense this season, and as it looks to find its way the future of the offense is being trained.
Quarterback commit Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) will be enrolling early at Michigan, but he still has a lot of work left before he moves to Ann Arbor in January. Speight has been working with well-known quarterback coach Steve Clarkson for quite some time and the two have put in hours upon hours of work to ready the signal-caller for college.
Wilton Speight, who is ranked as the No. 5 pocket passer in the nation, is working hard to be prepared to enroll at Michigan in January.
Since Speight, who is ranked No. 128 in the ESPN 300, lives in Virginia and Clarkson lives in California, the two often spend an extended period of time to workout together.
“When I train with Steve during the school year it’s for the weekend and then in the summer it’s usually four to seven days at a time,” Speight said. “Every day is three workouts. In the morning it’s lower body and foot speed, afternoon is upper body and throwing mechanics and then at night it’s the mental reps.”
Speight and Clarkson will run through different cut ups of film and go over plays on a white board to practice the mental side of the game.
Working with Clarkson has been a huge help to his game and Speight has seen the improvements season after season, but it also might have helped him with his recruitment as well.
Clarkson has known Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges for more than 26 years and knows exactly what type of quarterback Borges needs for his offense. When the Michigan offer came through for Speight, Clarkson knew it was a home run.
“Knowing (Borges) and what he’s looking for in a quarterback, Wilton Speight is everything and more of what he wants,” Clarkson said. “(Borges) wants to run some traditional stuff and I’ve actually compared Wilton to another client of mine, Ben Roethlisberger. I can’t wait to see him on that campus.”
Clarkson told Speight the Michigan offer was a no-brainer because of how well his four-star pupil will fit in the Michigan offense.
That fit has been somewhat difficult to see since Borges coached Denard Robinson his first few seasons at Michigan, and currently has Devin Gardner, both mobile quarterbacks.
To really visualize the pro-style offense the Michigan coaches talk about, Speight has gone to YouTube to watch film on Borges’ offense from his past coaching stops. He knows it has worked at other schools, so there is no doubt in Speight’s mind that it will work at Michigan as well.
With only a few months left until he makes the move to campus, Speight has tried to do more than just watch old film. He considers himself a film junky and gets down on himself for not being prepared enough.
For that fact alone, Speight knows he has to work even harder to acclimate himself to his new environment on the field and off it once he gets to Ann Arbor.
“It’s going to be a lot thrown at me at once. It will give me some time to develop relationships with the team, the other quarterbacks and the coaches,” he said. “I want to stick my nose in the playbook and watch as much film as I can. Start throwing routes to the guys to get chemistry down, so that when spring ball comes around it feels like I’ve been there for a couple years.”
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Clarkson believes Speight is the kind of player who will garner the respect of his older teammates immediately. Speight's effort, the amount of work he puts in and his personality all are characteristics mentioned by the quarterback coach as to why Clarkson thinks Speight is special.
That work ethic and need to be prepared has even led to a plan to train for the Under Armour All-America game, which Speight is set to play in.
The two will spend a week together in December preparing for the defense he might see during the game.
“We’re going to go back and watch last year’s film, assuming it will be the same basic scheme and defenses,” Speight said. “We also have a DVD with the quarterback challenge down there. Steve wants to get a couple golf carts and get target practice in for that competition. I just want to prepare as best I can to try to have a perfect week.”
The game will be held on January 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be broadcast on ESPN. That means there won’t be much time after the game until he needs to report to Michigan.
As someone who wants to be overly prepared, Speight knows this will all happen very quickly in the next few months. He is ready for the challenges ahead, though, and believes he has done enough work to succeed in the future.
“Steve has told me that he knows for a fact I will fit in to Coach Borges’ offense. We have put a lot of hours in on the field and that has really helped me a lot,” Speight said. “I’ll just keep working with him and then he’ll turn me over to Borges and it will be a smooth transition. Hopefully we can accomplish some big things in Ann Arbor.”