Former Michigan insider Tom Van Haaren, who still concentrates a lot on the Wolverines, reported earlier tonight that redshirt junior quarterback Shane Morris will transfer (LINK). Since he would be entering his fifth year of college with an undergraduate degree, he could transfer into any grad program that Michigan does not offer.
Morris committed to Michigan in May of 2011, even though he was a 2013 prospect. He was a 247 Composite 4-star, the #3 pro-style quarterback, and #72 overall out of Warren (MI) De La Salle. He was invited to the Elite 11 and played in the Under Armour All-America Game. At the time he was viewed as Michigan’s savior at quarterback, since then coach Brady Hoke was a pro-style guy and Morris was a borderline 5-star prospect to some services. Ultimately, though, the lack of development from Morris may have contributed to Hoke’s ouster. As an injury replacement for Devin Gardner, he completed 29/47 passes for 261 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions as a freshman, including his best career performance in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl after Gardner broke his foot. In that game he was 24/38 for 193 yards, along with 4 carries for 43 yards in the loss. Things were downright terrible in 2014 when he was 14/40 for 128 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions; the concussion he suffered against Minnesota induced new protocols throughout college football, since he was left in the game after taking a shot to the head/neck area and stumbling around for a moment.
When Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2015, Morris was #2 on the depth chart to begin the season, even though the coaching staff was trying to preserve a redshirt year. That was presumably to help him secure a grad transfer later in his career. He sat behind Jake Rudock and was eventually passed by Wilton Speight for the backup gig, anyway. Going into the 2016 season, he was a solid #3 behind Speight and John O’Korn. Morris played in certain packages this past season, mostly handing off the ball or leading the way on some toss sweeps. He was 4/5 for 45 yards this season, along with 3 carries for 19 yards, while playing in just six games.
Morris’s departure was expected. Michigan has a returning starter in Speight and some quality quarterbacks coming in the pipeline. The fate of backup John O’Korn is up in the air, since he also appears to be behind Speight going forward, but there was going to be a logjam with upperclassman quarterbacks. This development won’t hurt Michigan on the field. It opens a door for a potential contributor to get a scholarship.
Transfers and grad transfers often like to go close to home, so I would be inclined to guess that Morris will end up at a MAC school to finish out his career. Along with some big-time offers, he was pursued by Bowling Green, Central Michigan, and Toledo in high school. I’m not familiar with the quarterback situations at each school, but with his college track record, I sincerely doubt he’s going to get a look from another Power Five school unless they’re extremely desperate.