|You want Wilton Speight to be Michigan's starter, don't you?|
THE FRONT-RUNNER: Shane Morris (Jr.)
2014 stats: 14/40 (35%), 128 yards, 0 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
It's hard to believe that someone with those statistics could be the front-runner for any job, but Morris is the aforementioned experienced backup. He backed up Gardner in 2013 as a freshman when Russell Bellomy had a torn ACL. He did not fare well, but there were glimpses against a pretty good Kansas State defense in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Then 2014 came along, and there were no more glimpses. Morris threw an ugly late-game interception in a blowout win over Appalachian State, and he also threw picks against Utah and Minnesota; meanwhile, despite some decent running skills, Morris has yet to account for any kind of touchdown during his college career. That's 87 career passing attempts and 15 carries without a score. This spring he has reportedly been splitting snaps pretty evenly with the other scholarship quarterbacks available, but nobody has separated himself. Morris has a strong arm, decent accuracy, and those running skills, but his decision-making has generally been terrible.
Hit the jump for the rest of Michigan's options under center.
THE FAN FAVORITE: Wilton Speight (RS Fr.)
2014 stats: Did not play while redshirting
I call Speight the "fan favorite" because, like just about any fan base, Michigan's seems to think the backup is better than the starter. I use those terms loosely, of course, because neither slot is filled, but it's only natural to think that the experienced junior would start while the inexperienced redshirt freshman bides his time. Speight is bigger (6'6", 235 lbs.) than Morris and not quite as mobile, but the buzz is that he has more leadership qualities and has been picking up the offense quicker. Speight is not exactly a statue in the pocket, but him winning the job would largely negate the threat of designed runs for the quarterback. I was higher on Morris than Speight coming out of high school, although I did have some questions about Morris's decision-making. Now that it appears Morris will not fill his borderline 5-star potential, it does seem intriguing to see what Speight can do.
THE DARK HORSE: Alex Malzone (Fr.)
2014 stats: 211/325 (64.9%), 2998 yards, 38 touchdowns, 5 interceptions as a senior in high school
Malzone passed up a couple mediocre Power Five conference schools and some MAC offers to stay home and play for the Wolverines. He enrolled early this past January and is currently in the midst of his first spring practice session. One thing I noted when he was in high school was that he seemed to be totally in command of his team's offense. Nothing really stands out about his high school film other than that - he's not particularly big, strong-armed, fast, etc. - but sometimes that can be enough. He played in a pro-style offense in high school that should mesh fairly well with what he is learning from Jim Harbaugh, although surely at a more complicated level. The coaches have reportedly been impressed with his ability to learn the playbook quickly, and I should note that I don't believe I've ever heard that reported about Morris. While Speight and Malzone have been noted for their football aptitude, Morris has been more of the best overall athlete of the bunch.
THE ROOKIE GUNSLINGER: Zach Gentry (Fr.)
2014 stats: Unavailable
The 6'7", 230 lb. freshman won't arrive at Michigan until the summer, so all we have to go on is his high school film. It's impressive high school film, but it also shows him playing against a bunch of New Mexicans, who are not regarded for their football abilities. Gentry is a one-time Texas commit, and while he may not have been ranked as high as Morris, he might have been more coveted by other programs; Morris stopped reporting new offers after he committed to Michigan very early in the process. Regardless, Gentry is very tall, has excellent speed for someone his size, and has a pretty strong arm. He might rival Morris for being the best athlete at the quarterback position, but these two will be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to experience. After Michigan hired Harbaugh, Gentry became a prime target, so it's comforting to think that the quarterback guru we hired really wanted this guy. At the same time, freshmen generally play like freshmen, which is not a compliment.
THE CLINT EASTWOOD: Jake Rudock (RS Sr.)
2014 stats: 213/345 (61.7%), 2436 yards, 16 touchdowns, 5 interceptions at Iowa
Who is this Jake Rudock guy and why has he not been playing here the past few years? You might not be too familiar because he's been Iowa's starting quarterback for the past two seasons. Reports have been bubbling below the surface for the past month or so that Rudock really wants to play for Jim Harbaugh and get out of Iowa, where ultra-conservative offensive coordinator Greg Davis had called for Rudock to dink and dunk his way to 6.9 and 7.1 yards per attempt for the past two seasons. The staff was not particularly interested to begin with, but none of the quarterbacks look great, so Harbaugh may be considering opening up the competition even further. If Michigan were to accept him, he would not arrive until the summer, but he would be eligible to play this fall due to the NCAA's graduate transfer rules. Iowa fans do not like Rudock because he is boring, but throwing only 5 interceptions in 345 attempts looks pretty darn exciting to me. He led Iowa to a 7-6 record last year and an 8-5 record the year before, when the Hawkeyes have had a questionable offensive coordinator and debilitation injuries at the running back position. After Michigan went 5-7 last season, I think I would be satisfied with a one-year rental who could win 8 games while being "boring." Personally, I think Michigan should throw as many darts as they can at the quarterback job, so if there's any chance that Rudock could be the answer, then the coaching staff should make it happen.
THE UNTOUCHABLE: John O'Korn (RS So.)
2014 stats: 90/173 (52%), 951 yards, 6 touchdowns, 8 interceptions at Houston
O'Korn visited Michigan a few weeks ago and is all but official to be transferring to Michigan. However, he's not a fifth-year guy and therefore won't get an exception, so he wouldn't be available until 2016.
You can voice your opinion on the quarterback situation in the comments or by voting in the poll posted on the left sidebar.