Wilton Speight, Ex-Wolverine

Wilton Speight, Ex-Wolverine


November 26, 2017

Wilton Speight (image via AP)

Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight announced via Instagram on Sunday afternoon that he would be transferring elsewhere for his fifth year senior season. Speight started 12 games in 2016 and 4 more in 2017 before breaking a few vertebrae in his back against Purdue. He redshirted in 2014 before playing a backup role to Jake Rudock in 2015.

Hit the jump for more on the transfer.

CAREER STATS
2015: 9/25, 36%, 73 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
2016: 204/331, 61.6%, 2538 yards, 18 TD, 7 INT
2017: 44/81, 54.3%, 581 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
TOTAL: 257/437, 58.8%, 3192 yards, 22 TD, 10 INT

For many observers, the writing appeared to be on the wall in the spring of 2017. That’s when Brandon Peters outplayed Speight in the spring game. For whatever reason – largely reported to be command/leadership – Peters started the 2017 season as the #3 guy on the depth chart, and only after the Speight injury and some terrible play by John O’Korn did Peters get a chance to play. He responded with a passing efficiency of just over 142, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 1 fumble this season before getting injured himself.

Speight finishes his career at #12 in career passing yards, #12 in career passing attempts, and #14 in career passing touchdowns.

As mentioned above, Speight did not play well this season and looked like he would be in a fight to hold onto the starting job going into 2018. It makes sense that he would want to go somewhere that truly needs a quarterback, even though it’s unclear if he can be “that guy” for any team. At 6’6″ and around 240 lbs., he’s a pocket quarterback – albeit with some surprising elusiveness – who won’t fit into a ton of systems.

This does hurt Michigan as far as depth and experience go, but I don’t believe Speight would have been starting in 2018. Michigan needs to take the next step offensively, and Speight is limited as a passer. He has accuracy issues, does not have a particularly strong arm, and struggled under pressure this year. I gave him a TTB Rating of 77 when I posted my final ratings for 2014 (LINK), which placed him in the category of “Solid starter in Big Ten; some NFL draft potential.” That’s fairly accurate given his overall performance at Michigan, but he still has a year to raise his NFL draft stock. If he were to come out this year, he would certainly not get drafted.

Michigan will be down at least two quarterbacks going into 2018 in the form of Speight and O’Korn, who was a fifth year senior. The depth chart (in order of eligibility) looks like this for next year:

Alex Malzone (RS Jr.)
Brandon Peters (RS So.)
Dylan McCaffrey (RS Fr.)
Kevin Doyle (Fr.)
Joe Milton (Fr.)

I expect Peters to be the starter at this juncture, but there are rumors that Michigan could pursue other options in the form of transfers. A couple names that have popped up are Ole Miss’s Shea Patterson and Georgia’s Jacob Eason. Patterson may be eligible as a transfer in 2018 if sanctions come down against Ole Miss (much like Penn State after Joe Paterno’s scandal), but Eason would have to sit out a year.

18 comments

  1. Comments: 28
    Joined: 9/18/2016
    Chowman
    Nov 26, 2017 at 6:29 PM

    Not shocking in the least. Probably was going to be 3rd at best on the depth chart if he returned. Gotta wonder if Alex Malzone might not do the same as he has yet to see the field in 3 yrs at UofM. Wondering out loud if Jim takes a 3rd QB this cycle, more of an athlete type, like he did while he was at Stanford. Also, would they entertain a grad transfer again as a back up insurance plan?????

    • Comments: 2275
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 26, 2017 at 6:35 PM

      The transfer thing is addressed at the bottom of the post. I don’t think Michigan would recruit a 3rd QB in this class. It’s either stick with the 2 QBs overall, or take the 2 QBs and add a transfer.

      • Comments: 28
        Joined: 9/18/2016
        Chowman
        Nov 26, 2017 at 6:39 PM

        Thunder,

        What’s your read on Malzone. I know he was a UofM fan growing up, but you think he’ll stick, or move on to play somewhere?

        • Comments: 2275
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Nov 26, 2017 at 6:48 PM

          He’s not staying but I didn’t want to hijack this post with that news.

          • Comments: 28
            Joined: 9/18/2016
            Chowman
            Nov 26, 2017 at 6:55 PM

            Gotcha!

  2. Comments: 762
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Nov 26, 2017 at 6:38 PM

    Best of luck to speight
    Agree this is a shot to depth, and hurts in that Peters needs competition to develop to his potential (Mac is still a bit slight)

  3. Comments: 538
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Nov 26, 2017 at 6:52 PM

    I was really hoping for a competition between Peters and Speight. I wanted Speight on this team.

    • Comments: 28
      Joined: 9/18/2016
      Chowman
      Nov 26, 2017 at 6:57 PM

      Why? He seemed to regress every game. Just interested in your opinion. Many fans seem to be happy he’s gone!

      • Comments: 538
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Nov 26, 2017 at 8:48 PM

        First, this team needs a senior qb who has experience and who ideally is insurance for Peters. Who wouldn’t want a good teammate who is probably a real solid backup.

        He regressed but for a 2nd stringer that is not a bad option. I definitely would rather have Speight than a rookie with no experience who may have more talent to start out.

        I want someone to ideally push the younger guys. As I stated before, I would defer to coach. If he wanted WS as the starter then so be it.

        My selfish reason is I wanted a quality backup in Speight. I am not LK who thinks he is a NFL qb prospect but I do think he is a quality backup that any pro style program would want. I am selfish but I understand if he was going to not start and he read the tea leaves. I personally think he didn’t want to take the chance of not winning the job and bailed for his personal self interests. I get it.

        • GKblue
          Comments: 235
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          GKblue
          Nov 26, 2017 at 10:05 PM

          I guess I am just as selfishly motivated as you are thinking Speight as a backup with senior leadership would have been a good thing.

          On the other hand he wants to compete and must not think he can beat out Peters/McCaff. I suspect JH told him that was where the snaps would go.

          Ultimately, the wisdom of his choice to me is predicated on his health. Last year before he got hurt he did a serviceable job.

          Good luck to him.

    • Comments: 682
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Nov 26, 2017 at 7:36 PM

      Why? The last thing anyone should want is for Peters to be no better next year than Speight was. He needs to be significantly better if this team is ever going to be better than middle of the pack in our division and actually start winning games that matter. Peters needs coaching to develop to his potential. If he has that, and the talent, competition is overrated. Next year is his year. Either he’s the clear starter, or he’s another bust.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 350
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Nov 26, 2017 at 9:11 PM

        I tend to agree that next year is Peters’ year.

        Speight as backup would have been a nice insurance policy, but as others have noted, I suspect Harbaugh gave Speight the firm handshake and that was that.

        Oh for a “what if” machine that would allow us to play the OSU game with a healthy Peters. We may not have won, but I suspect we would have seen some good — and encouraging — things out of Peters.

        • Comments: 11
          Joined: 10/31/2016
          snarling
          Nov 26, 2017 at 9:46 PM

          Given how close this game was, I think it’s *likely* we win with Peters in there. Oh well.

          That said, McCaffrey’s gotten a lot of practice hype and those two could be in for a battle next year.

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 350
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            DonAZ
            Nov 26, 2017 at 10:27 PM

            I’m eager to see what McCaffrey brings. That said, even to my untrained eye I could see Peters growing more confident with each snap and each game.

  4. Comments: 68
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    PapaBear
    Nov 26, 2017 at 8:54 PM

    Can Speight apply for a medical redshirt thus giving him two years of eligibility?

    • Comments: 2275
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 26, 2017 at 9:00 PM

      It’s very unlikely. He would have to prove that he was injured in 2014 and that was the reason for him missing the season. Also, usually the NCAA will only give a sixth year to a guy who missed his fifth year due to injury, not his fourth.

  5. Comments: 68
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    PapaBear
    Nov 26, 2017 at 9:19 PM

    Last question before the next one: Why leave or announce prior to the bowl game? Will he be on the active roster for the bowl?

    • Comments: 2275
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 26, 2017 at 9:23 PM

      I don’t know for sure. I would assume that he will not be on the active roster. He said that he’s going to spend the next four weeks trying to find a new place to play, so it doesn’t seem like he would be concentrating too well on football. And if he’s going to enroll at a new school in early January, then he will probably be in the process of moving and getting settled when Michigan is playing in the bowl game.

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