ANN ARBOR, Mich.–Following Michigan’s spring game, junior Shane Morris was tabbed as the team’s No. 1 quarterback by coach Jim Harbaugh. But that was months ago, and the Wolverines have since hit the reset button when it comes to evaluating their stable of contenders.
As of now, players such as Morris, senior transfer Jake Rudock, redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and true freshmen Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry are on equal footing.
Everyone will get a “fair” and “honest” look once camp starts Friday.
“Right now, we haven’t really gotten to spend much time with them,” Jedd Fisch said Thursday during the Wolverines’ media day at the Junge Family Champions Center. “So right now, we’re still at a point where I haven’t spent any time with Jake.
I haven’t spent any time with Shane since we were allowed to be with him for an hour or so, every now and then. That was about it. So right now, it’s kind of business as usual and we’ll really have to wait until the first few days (of camp to see) how everything plays itself out.”
It’ll take a few practices in order for the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach to properly survey the field, but he’s confident that each of his five eligible quarterbacks will expend all of their resources during the battle–which is exactly what he hopes to see starting this weekend.
“I think we’re wide open–I think we’re going to have a wide-open competition,” said Fisch, who was visibly energetic about his prospects. “Shane won the spring, I guess you could say, but now we’re past the spring. So we kind of put that beside us, or behind us–now it’s a brand-new open competition for the fall. Guys are healthy, guys are back, new guys are in—so that was kind of the spring competition, but now we’re going to start brand-new.”
Morris will face more competition than ever, but he doesn’t mind the brand-new approach. The 6’3,” 209-pound former Warren De La Salle star fully understands the challenges that must be conquered in order to achieve his goal. He spent the offseason preparing for what could be the most important season of his collegiate career, and he’s not entering camp on a half-step.
“(Summer) was tough, a lot of work–grinding,” said Morris, who has two starts and 389 passing yards to go with five picks. “Grinding hard every day; the playbook and watching film, throwing with the receivers and getting a lot of work in with the team. It was a good summer; it was very productive and I’m excited to get to fall camp.
“Confidence is very high. I’m very confident about the season. I’m excited. I feel like I can be the quarterback of this team, and I’ll do the best I possibly can to be the best quarterback for this team and win the job.”
The process of finding a starting quarterback deserves to be treated with consistency and care, and throwing around arbitrary tags as to who is No. 1 and who is No. 2 just isn’t part of the operation–not right now, anyway.
“No, we haven’t talked about that at all,” Fisch said of defining a timetable for quarterbacks. “I think when it happens, it will happen and it will be clear to coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (offensive coordinator Tim) Drevno and myself and the whole staff.
But what you really want is, you really want it to be clear to everybody. You want the right guard to see it. You want the head coach to see it. You want everybody to feel that we’re now anointing that starting quarterback and everybody feels great about it. So when that happens, that’s when we’ll do it.”
Back in spring, Morris was “neck-and-neck” with Malzone for top reps–that’s why they started opposite of one another during the exhibition in April. As practices progressed, Morris ended up doing enough to earn the top role, and those same qualities could help him make a run at No. 1 this fall.
“(Morris) had a little more maturity, maybe, or experience (than Malzone),” Fisch said. “But you know, Shane’s got a live arm and he can make every throw, and he’s a good athlete and works really hard. He’s in the building all the time. I like all that about Shane.
Now Shane has to go out there and find a way to perform under the lights, so to speak, and in 11-on-11 drills with the pass-rush and all that stuff.”
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