From a statistical standpoint, the 2015 season was not kind to Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight. The 6-foot-6 junior from Richmond, Va. completed only 36 percent (yikes) of his passes in five appearances, and Speight finished with a quarterback rating that would not inspire a ton of confidence in his ability.
However, Speight did engineer the game-winning drive against Minnesota after starter Jake Rudock left the game with injury, and that put the previously anonymous backup on the map in a big way. Now, Speight is locked in a big-time battle with Houston transfer John O'Korn for the starting job under Jim Harbaugh and, once again, Speight is largely operating in the shadow of the more famous and, potentially, more intriguing option.
Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com spoke to Speight this week, though, and he certainly isn't lacking confidence in his ability to lead Michigan in 2016:
"I feel good. I feel really good about the work I've put in and what I've shown on the field. If I am chosen I feel very confident that I'll be able to go out and lead the team. But John's a confident guy, Shane's a confident guy, I'm sure they feel the same way."
Though Shane Morris may be tangentially in the race, most observers expect Harbaugh's choice to come down to Speight and O'Korn. With that, it is interesting to remember Speight's moment of glory in 2015 and he was asked how his mindset has shifted from one year to the next:
"Because it's me, I can remember back to the same plays we ran last year. I watch film and I can remember a rep or a play and I remember thinking last year 'this is so fast, the game is so fast.' It looked like a blur. This year in camp, and in the spring, I drop back and the game is so much slower. I can see guys come open before they're open now, that's the biggest thing.
"Everything's slowed down now."
The concept of the game "slowing down" is a good one for any player at this level of major college football, and it is especially key for a cerebral player like Speight. O'Korn is the much more exciting option based on mobility and play-making, but Speight appears safer with his knowledge of the offense, steady hand and big arm.
Regardless of the final choice, Harbaugh has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to pushing the right buttons at quarterback. If it isn't O'Korn, however, no one should be surprised.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.