Former Michigan and NFL Quarterback Jim Harbaugh took over the Wolverine program well over a year ago without an established Quarterback returning. He took a transfer from Iowa, Jake Rudock and molded him into a pretty good Quarterback by season’s end.
This year, Harbaugh has much the same situation to work with. He’s got returning players Wilton Speight, Shane Morris and Alex Malzone, plus true freshman Brandon Peters on the roster. But, he also has another transfer in John O’Korn from Houston.
Speight was the back up last season and he took over for Rudock when he was injured against Minnesota. Speight is a big guy at 6-6, 240 and with good skills.
Morris was the back up to former Quarterback Devin Gardner, but they tried to start him in 2014 and he did not do well. Morris redshirted last season.
Malzone is a redshirt freshman that has already run into some off field issues. He has long odds of
ever playing, but he needs to keep his nose clean above all else. I was pulling for Malzone because he was committed to Brady Hoke and didn’t falter when Jim Harbaugh took over. Then, the Wolverines gained a commitment from huge Albuquerque, New Mexico Quarterback Zach Gentry and Malzone kept his commitment and signed with Harbaugh. Gentry has since moved to Tight End.
Brandon Peters was the 3rd rated Pocket Passer style Quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class, but for my money he was as good as any. I saw him play and was very impressed.
O’Korn signed with Houston out of Ft Lauderdale St Thomas Aquinas High School, which is the same high school as Jake Rudock attended. He started as a freshman and threw for over 3,000 yards, but he was benched in favor of Greg Ward Jr who is a better runner. O’Korn is 6-4, 210.
Whoever wins the starting job will have an outstanding cast of receivers to hook up with.
Wide Receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson are special, and Tight End Jake Butt is one of the nation’s best.
Amara Darboh is an amazing talent out of West Des Moines, Iowa. The state of Iowa is not exactly a recruiting hotbed and in any given season the state might produce 10 players, give or take a place kicker or two.
Darboh was rated a 4 star recruit by Rivals.com and by Scout. ESPN had him as a 3 star, but the best player in Iowa.
Darboh decided to leave home and go to Michigan, but his career was not all fun and games. He
played a little as a true freshman, but then he was injured before the 2013 season and never saw any action.
During the 2014 season and before the arrival of Jim Harbaugh, Darboh had something of a breakout season when he caught 36 passes.
But, with the arrival of Harbaugh and his new offense, Darboh was really good with 58 receptions for 725 yards and 5 Touchdowns.
St Louis, Missouri native Jehu Chesson may be an even bigger play maker than Darboh. Both Darboh and Chesson were in the recruiting class of 2012, and both were 3 star recruits. In the state of Missouri in the 2012 class everybody took a back seat to Wide Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. At 6-6, 220, Green-Beckham was the state of Missouri champion in the 100 meters and one of the top recruits in the country. The Missouri Tigers won a heated battle over Arkansas and Texas for him and he was all that the hype said he was before his off field issues got him kicked off the team.
Chesson redshirted in 2012, and then he played sparingly over the next couple of seasons. He caught 29 passes over 2 seasons, before having his breakout year in 2015. Last year, he caught 50 passes for 764 yards and 9 Touchdowns.
Chesson even returned a Kickoff for a Touchdown. Chesson is 6-3, 210 and Darboh is 6-2, 215 so both are big receivers. They both came up with some circus catches last season.
The other big time receiver for the Wolverines is super talented Tight End Jake Butt. He’s not as fast as Alabama’s Jordan Howard, and he is not as athletic and able to make the circus catch like Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges. But, he probably combines more of everything than any other Tight End in the country. He’s a great receiver and he’s a great blocker.
Butt was second on the team in number of receptions only behind Darboh, with 51. His catches
totaled 654 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Unlike Darboh and Chesson, the 6-6, 250 Butt was a 4 star recruit and very highly recruited by most of the major players.
The 2013 recruiting class was a good year in the state of Ohio. Butt was rated 8th overall in the state behind three other players that signed with Michigan. The Wolverines signed 9 players out of the state of Ohio in that recruiting class including Butt, Taco Charlton, De’Veon Smith, Mike McCray and Ben Gedeon.
Jake Butt was used a little less frequently under previous head coach Brady Hoke when he hauled in 20 receptions in 2013 and 21 in 2014. But, in all fairness to Hoke, the Wolverines didn’t have the greatest Quarterback situation and Butt was injured.
The Wolverines are loaded at Tight End and another great thing about Jake Butt is that he is acting as a mentor to the younger guys. Not only is he a great player, but he’s also a great leader and teammate.
The Quarterback battle was not decided in the Spring, and it will continue into the first workouts of the summer.
Whoever wins the Quarterbacking job will have plenty of talent to work with.