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.
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.
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