Jim Harbaugh: Michigan's starting quarterback job still up for grabs

CHICAGO - Jim Harbaugh confirmed that Wilton Speight is “in a good spot” to be Michigan’s quarterback again.

The coach, however, also reiterated that the fourth-year junior remains in a three-way tie with redshirt freshman Brandon Peters and fifth-year senior John O’Korn to be the Wolverines’ starter entering Monday’s first practice.

“You want to see what's transpired over the summer and see who has gotten better,” Harbaugh said at Big Ten Football Media Days today of the impending quarterback battle, adding that it will “probably take about anywhere from eight to 15 practices to figure that out.”

Speight started 12 of 13 games last season for the Wolverines after beating out O’Korn in preseason camp. The 6-foot-6, 243-pound Speight completed 61.6% of his passes (204 for 331), throwing for 2,538 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Under Speight’s direction, Michigan won its first nine games last season, but the Wolverines lost three of their final four – a point that Harbaugh was reminded of in two questions just minutes apart.

“Lost three out of the last four games. OK, good,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe that will motivate us to put more into it – coach better, play better, train harder. Put more of our heart into each and every one of those ball games.”

Harbaugh said the quarterback competition “was a dead heat” early in the spring until Peters “really shot up.” He added that O’Korn really played consistently good, and Wilton really had some impressive moments as well.”

“The biggest thing I want to see out of the quarterback is who can consistently move the team – get first downs, put points on the board eventually,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh gushed specifically about Peters’ development.

“He’s got a personality that’s very quiet. He’s very, he’s kind of real quiet. Probably there’s one thing that’s easy to do is a quarterback is just take charge, be loud,” Harbaugh said of the 6-5, 215-pound Peters. “That doesn’t come as natural to him, and he was coming out of that. I say, ‘Take charge, be loud – it’s really easy. Huuuuuuh! Be loud. Blue-80, blue-80!’ That’s the easiest thing about being a quarterback to me. Just be louder, Brandon, please.

“But he’s coming out of it. I mean, those stadiums are very loud and there’s a lot of people in them. But he elevated his game over the spring.”

Harbaugh also said Drake Harris has moved from wide receiver to defensive back for his fourth season.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.

© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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