** Last year Michigan’s quarterback was Jake Rudock, who had transferred in from Iowa with one year of eligibility remaining. Little was expected of him, but he threw for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns with single-digit interceptions for the season.
** For head coach, former quarterback and current groomer of quarterbacks Jim Harbaugh, the position is now open. Excluding walk-ons, there are five candidates on the roster who have earned Harbaugh’s consideration. In alphabetical order here are brief profiles of the five:
+ Alex Malzone. Sophomore. Good arm. Kind of small. Pro-style. Unlikely to win the job.
+ Shane Morris. Left-handed. Holdover from Brady Hoke regime. Main claim to fame to getting knocked silly by Minnesota and remaining in the game in late September of 2014. Will most likely convert to wide receiver while serving as the #3 quarterback.
+ John O’Korn. Transfer from Houston, where in 2013 he threw for 3,117 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. Transferred to Michigan when Greg Ward took over at Houston. Can throw the rock and is mobile – just what Harbaugh likes in a quarterback. Can heave the deep ball. Has more experience than other candidates. Coforepr considers him the favorite to win the job in the fall.
+ Brandon Peters. 6’5” and 205 pounds. True freshman. Indiana’s Mr. Football as high-schooler.
Immense talent. Will likely redshirt in 2016.
+ Wilton Speight. Harbaugh admitted to be uncomfortable with Speight in the game in 2015. But he played well in the spring game. Steady. Productive. Safe. Won’t make mistakes. Poised. In command of the offense. Not as talented as O’Korn or Peters. Maybe the most Rudock-like of the contenders for the job. Can run a little. More game-manager with decent but not spectacular arm. Won’t win games with overwhelming talent but least likely to screw up.
** The Wolverines have a great defense, a solid running game and outstanding receivers (Jake Butt, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson among others) that might be the best in the Big Ten. O’Korn could thrive as the signal-caller and the offense could be dynamic, could be great. It won’t be record-setting with Speight under center, but it would likely get the job done in one of college football’s toughest conference divisions.
** Whoever wins the job will have a great opportunity to master the offense, as Michigan has the weakest non-conference schedule of any Power Five team in the country. The Wolverines open at home with three straight games against teams that struggled mightily a year ago. Michigan is a 41-point favorite against Hawaii (3-10 in 2015) and will come close to duplicating that line against Central Florida (0-12 last year) and Colorado (4-9). The first two Big Ten games are also at home. Michigan doesn’t play on the road until October 8, and that game is at Rutgers. The first real road test doesn’t come until October 29 at Michigan State.