ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan faces a quandary as it prepares for both its December bowl game and the 2018 season.
Who, exactly, will be Michigan’s starting quarterback in its bowl game: redshirt season Brandon Peters or senior John O’Korn?
And looking beyond that, who will start in 2018?
With the departure of O’Korn and Wilton Speight, who will pursue a graduate transfer, Peters is the most obvious choice to start next season. He has the most college playing experience of the group of five returnees.
And Peters is the early favorite to start among this group that has a distinct look: all five candidates are Jim Harbaugh’s recruits.
This is Harbaugh’s chance to directly groom the players he brought in, at the position where he excelled in college and the NFL.
Here’s a look at each of Michigan’s quarterbacks for 2018.
Many anticipated Peters to give Speight a run for the starting quarterback job in 2017. Despite a standout performance in Michigan’s spring game, Peters admitted earlier this season that he lost focus and was not psychologically prepared for the responsibilities of a starting quarterback.
The redshirt freshman, however, regained his focus on football and became O’Korn’s backup after Speight sustained cracked vertebrae Sept. 30 at Purdue. O’Korn struggled in three subsequent starts, and Peters took over as Michigan’s No. 1 quarterback in wins against Rutgers, Maryland and Minnesota.
Peters is 37-of-64 passing for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns this season, and he hasn’t thrown an interception. Peters made three starts before he sustained a concussion Nov. 18 at Wisconsin and did not play Saturday against Ohio State.
Dylan McCaffrey, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, hovered at No. 3 or No. 4 on Michigan’s quarterback depth chart and will redshirt this year as a freshman.
McCaffrey, a 4-star recruit in the 2017 class, threw for 2,796 yards and 31 touchdowns on 204-of-306 passing, and was intercepted 5 times as a senior in 2016 at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo.
McCaffrey and Peters will be Michigan’s top two returnees when spring practices open. Diligence and preparation will be key for McCaffrey if he wants to win the starting job. His lack of playing experience at the college level could be the only thing that hold him backs from making a run at being a starter. Yet in 2016, Harbaugh took another chance on an untested underclassman: Speight.
Alex Malzone hasn’t gotten any substantial playing time at Michigan. He appeared in only one game this season — in the final drive of a 33-10 win Nov. 4 against Minnesota — and in two games in the last two seasons.
Malzone is a former 4-star quarterback from Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Former Michigan coach Brady Hoke and assistant coach Doug Nussmeier originally recruited Malzone, who joined Harbaugh’s first recruiting class in 2015. He has been relegated to backup status among Michigan’s quarterbacks in the last two years.
Joe Milton is a 6-foot-5, 222-pound quarterback from Orlando, Fla., and a 4-star recruit who committed to the Wolverines in May. He is expected to enroll at Michigan for the spring semester.
He fits the mold of recent Michigan quarterbacks such as Jake Rudock, Speight and McCaffrey with size, arm strength, athleticism, mobility and accuracy.
Milton completed 90 of 188 passes for 1,317 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games at Olympia High School this season. He was intercepted 6 times.
Kevin Doyle is a bit of a dark-horse recruit, who verbally committed to the Wolverines in September, four months after Milton’s verbal commitment. Doyle is a senior at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C.
The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Doyle is a pro-style quarterback, whose emphasis is on passing.
The 3-star commit finished 159-of-252 passing for 2,620 yards and 22 touchdowns, with 4 interceptions, in his senior season at St. John’s.
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