Column: Michigan’s hype is not real without a field general

Mason Tronsor

“Others follow you based on the quality of your actions rather than the magnitude of your declarations,” said Bill Walsh, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who engineered the team to three Super Bowl victories along with being inducted into the Hall of Fame. During those glory days, Walsh had the privilege of coaching two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Joe Montana and Steve Young.

The 2016 Michigan football squad might not have a Montana or Young, but they do have a leader similar to Walsh. Head coach Jim Harbaugh was once a college and NFL quarterback himself. Its safe to say he’s familiar with the position.

In Harbaugh’s second stint as the headman for the Wolverines, the expectations are through the roof. After a 10-win season last year, the Wolverines hope to improve on Harbaugh’s first year success.

With a top-10 defense returning and a plethora of offensive weapons, the Wolverines are primed for a run at the College Football Playoff for the first time in school history. The only question mark the team must answer is the quarterback position.

There are three candidates in line for the starting job: Senior John O’Korn, redshirt senior Shane Morris and junior Wilton Speight. With the season less than two weeks away, the college football world is pondering who Harbaugh will hand the keys to.

O’Korn is a graduate transfer from the University of Houston. He sat out the previous season, but still practiced with the Wolverines. Last season, another graduate transfer by the name of Jake Rudock came to Michigan and was named the starting quarterback hours before the first game. Rudock went on to have plenty of success and currently plays for the Detroit Lions. O’Korn has all the athletic gifts to play the quarterback position. However, his leadership qualities will determine whether he is ready to lead the Wolverines into battle.

Speight has already proven himself in clutch situations. Last season against Minnesota, Rudock went down with a head injury. Speight stepped in and led the Wolverines to victory, throwing a game-winning touchdown pass with under a minute remaining in regulation. How will Speight play over the course of a full season against tougher competition? If he can prove he is in for the long run, he will be starting under center this fall.

Morris is the dark horse in this quarterback race. The senior was lining up at wide receiver during the spring game. He has started two games for the Wolverines in his sub-par career. However, he has never had a team around him this talented and with so much potential. Morris can relate to potential. Out of high school, he was a top-rated quarterback by Scouts Inc. However, since arriving to Michigan, his talent has been outweighed by his lack of adjustment to the college level.

Harbaugh will not announce a starting quarterback until the season-opener against Hawaii draws closer. With more experience and athleticism, O’Korn is the ideal choice for the starting job.

However, Harbaugh has made it clear that he doesn’t care how much experience or talent the quarterback has. He wants the guy who can lead the team down the field and take care of the ball, and so far, Michigan has three unproven commodities at the quarterback position. The Wolverines open the season on Labor Day weekend against Hawaii Saturday, Sept. 3—only then will the Michigan fan base know who their field general is for 2016.