Jim Harbaugh has brought so much crackling energy to Ann Arbor as Michigan's football coach that it's causing people to invent words. "It's Hollywood-ified. It's at times very surreal," Michigan linebacker Joe Bolden said.
Jim Harbaugh has brought so much crackling energy to Ann Arbor as Michigan's football coach that it's causing people to invent words.
"It's Hollywood-ified. It's at times very surreal," Michigan linebacker Joe Bolden said.
What isn't quite as evident is who will be Michigan's new quarterback in Harbaugh's first season as he tries to resurrect a program that has gone 55-46 since 2007.
The Wolverines will have six projected scholarship quarterbacks in fall camp, including Jake Rudock, who plans to transfer to Michigan after graduating from Iowa next month. He started the past two seasons for the Hawkeyes.
Harbaugh said Thursday on a Big Ten coaches teleconference that Shane Morris, a junior in the fall, is the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart. Morris started two games and appeared in 10 during his first two seasons while completing 43 of 87 passes for 389 yards, with five interceptions and no touchdowns. He was the top backup to last year's starter, Devin Gardner, who has graduated.
Besides Morris, the only other two quarterbacks to practice this spring for Michigan were true freshman Alex Malzone - a four-star recruit who enrolled in the winter - and redshirt freshman Wilton Speight.
Asked what he saw from his quarterbacks in spring practices, Harbaugh said: "Good competition. A desire to improve. There has been improvement made. There's a place to improve from and get better at."
How important was it for Harbaugh to see improvement at that specific position after he assessed his inherited roster?
"How important? Important," said Harbaugh, a former Michigan and NFL quarterback who spent the past four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers' coach.
Harbaugh didn't need to be loquacious about how struggles at quarterback contributed to Michigan going 5-7 last season to end Brady Hoke's four-year tenure as coach. Statistics say enough.
Michigan was No. 110 among the country's 125 teams in passing offense (170.2 yards a game). The Wolverines had 10 touchdown passes, completed a pass of 40 yards or more in only two games and their 18 interceptions were tied for 114th.
Rudock, by far the most experienced of Michigan's six quarterbacks, should help in his lone season of eligibility. Asked what he expects to see from the graduate transfer, Harbaugh said: "Same things that all of us saw."
Last year, Rudock passed for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was second in the Big Ten in completion percentage (.617), and his five interceptions were lowest among league starters. But Rudock was benched during Iowa's bowl game, and Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said in January that C.J. Beathard was the team's starter. Rudock then decided to transfer.
"I expect there to be very good competition," Harbaugh said. "He's an experienced player who is hungry to compete. I think it'll be good for him, first of all, good for him academically, and very good for him athletically. … I'm excited to watch it go down."
Morris completed 11 of 24 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown in Michigan's spring game on April 4. Malzone was 15 of 27 for 95 yards and two interceptions, and he fumbled once. Speight didn't play because of a reported leg injury.
Michigan's other two quarterbacks in fall camp will be four-star recruit Zach Gentry, who had committed to Texas but flipped after Harbaugh's hiring. John O'Korn, a transfer from Houston, will have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2016.