ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan has lost a second quarterback in four days. Alex Malzone, a redshirt sophomore, announced Wednesday his intention to transfer — three days after Wilton Speight confirmed he would pursue a graduate transfer after four seasons with the Wolverines.
Malzone’s playing time was minimal in his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons at Michigan. Even in recent weeks, his status seemed in question. When asked last week about the possibility of Malzone serving as a backup quarterback against Ohio State, passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton was short in his answer.
“Haven’t thought about it yet,” Hamilton said.
As Michigan’s stable of quarterbacks shrinks, it shouldn’t be a red flag regarding the state of the program.
“At the end of the day, [Malzone] just wants a chance to play, and it was never going to happen at Michigan,” former Michigan running back Chris Howard said. “As far as Wilton goes, it’s not a reflection of the program.”
What it means for Alex Malzone
Malzone’s departure isn’t a surprise. He was Michigan’s No. 2 quarterback in a 31-20 loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale on Nov. 26, but Michigan went with starter John O’Korn for the duration of the game, even as O’Korn broke down in the second half.
The fact that Brandon Peters was injured and Malzone wasn’t an active consideration to play may have been the writing on the wall for Malzone, a former 4-star recruit at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Officially, Malzone did not throw a pass in two appearances at Michigan. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining. He could be a strong candidate to play for a Group of 5 school, in the Football Championship Subdivision, or at Division II program.
What it means for Michigan
The departures of Speight and Malzone don’t just affect quantity, they affect quality. Unless a transfer comes in or Jim Harbaugh recruits another quarterback for 2018, Michigan has to refine its experience at the position as it prepares for a bowl game and next season.
Peters is in line to return in 2018 as the team’s most experienced quarterback, which doesn’t say much. Peters, a redshirt freshman, is 37-for-64 passing for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions in four games this season.
Malzone could remain on the roster through the bowl game since he doesn’t graduate until April. If he is unavailable, Harbaugh may need to reach deep into his roster for either sophomore Michael Sessa or fifth-year senior Garrett Moores as an emergency quarterback.
O’Korn will exhaust his eligibility after this season. Peters became Michigan’s starter in the final month of the regular season, but he will face competition in the spring from redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey.
McCaffrey has worked primarily with Michigan’s scout team, but he has drawn high praise from coaches for his diligence and preparation.
The wild cards in the 2018 quarterback competition will be the addition of two freshmen: Joe Milton, a 4-star, pro-style recruit from Orlando, Fla., who will enroll next semester; and Kevin Doyle, a 3-star, pro-style recruit from Washington, D.C., who will join the Wolverines in the summer.
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