John O’Korn (image via MLive)
Name: John O’Korn
Weight: 215 lbs.
High school: Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #8
Last year: I ranked O’Korn #91 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He redshirted and I am Nostradamus.
O’Korn spent the 2015 season redshirting after transferring from Houston.
He didn’t sit around and twiddle his thumbs, though. He was the scout team quarterback most of the time, and some observers said he was the best quarterback on the roster, and that included the option of starter Jake Rudock. Rudock threw for over 3,000 yards, got drafted, and has completed about 80% of his passes in two NFL pre-season games. To say O’Korn was better than him might be a stretch, especially because here I have him sitting at #22 on the team, and a starting quarterback should be higher than #22.
You may have guessed by now that I’m pegging Wilton Speight as the starter. I like the physical tools that I’ve seen from O’Korn, both at Houston and in the practices where I’ve seen him. He is a better athlete and a more natural quarterback than Speight. They say slow and steady wins the race, and while that’s not always true . . .
. . . it may hold some water in the quarterback battle. O’Korn has starting experience from Houston, he runs well, and he has a strong arm. You keep hearing that he makes more bad decisions or turnovers, though, and that’s a problem for a ball control offense. Jim Harbaugh won’t settle for a QB who throws 25 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, at least not if he can help it. I don’t think O’Korn would be that careless after spending two seasons at Michigan, but I do think Harbaugh would rather have a guy with an 18:5 TD-to-INT ratio than a 1:1.
O’Korn still has some considerable value here at #22. First, he may still earn the starting job, whether it’s for the opener against Hawaii or if Speight doesn’t play up to Harbaugh’s standards. Second, a backup QB is often needed in key situations, just like Speight was needed against Minnesota last season after Rudock got injured. And third, as Harbaugh likes to say, steel sharpens steel. Even if O’Korn doesn’t take a single snap this year, his presence will keep Speight working hard to hold on to the pole position.
Prediction: Backup quarterback