Quarterback Ryan Mallett was an early commitment in Michigan’s 2007 recruiting class. Always considered to be headed to Arkansas, he instead chose to become a Wolverine because he didn’t want to sit behind Mitch Mustain at quarterback for three years. He thought it was a better idea to sit behind senior Chad Henne for one season and take over Lloyd Carr’s quarterback factory of an offense in 2008.
Unfortunately for Michigan, Mallett didn’t like the cold and wasn’t a model citizen. He considered transferring practically when he arrived at Michigan in Winter 2007, and he followed through with those plans as soon as Rich Rodriguez was hired in December 2007. As a freshman in Carr’s final year at the helm, Mallett played for Henne when the latter injured his knee and shoulder. Mallett even started a couple games and finished the year 892 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, a 43.3% completion percentage, and a 105.69 passer efficiency rating. But his taste of playing time wasn’t enough to convince him to stick around for Rodriguez’s read option offense.
Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain had transferred to USC, and Mallett transferred to Arkansas to fill his position. He appealed to the NCAA in an attempt to allow him to play for Arkansas in 2008, but lost and had to redshirt last season.
In 2009, Mallett started for Arkansas and finished the season 225/403 (55.8%), 3627 yards, 30 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a 152.52 passer efficiency rating. He had -29 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns on the ground. He’s explored the possibility of jumping to the NFL early, and he’s been talked about as an early Heisman candidate for the 2010 season.
By comparison, Michigan’s quarterbacks – mainly Tate Forcier, with bits of Denard Robinson, Nick Sheridan, and David Cone – finished the 2009 season 189/329 (57.4%), 2380 yards, 15 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a 124.14 passer efficiency rating. They also rushed for 608 yards and 8 touchdowns.
The offense would not have been the same with Mallett, who’s about 6’7″ and 235 lbs. He would have been less of a threat to run than Forcier or Robinson, but the passing game likely would have been upgraded if Mallett were still in Ann Arbor. Michigan’s lack of a downfield passing game was evident in 2009, and that’s one thing Mallett would have improved.
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