Morris: UM job is mine to lose; Rudock: 'I want to play'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Shane Morris

Ann Arbor – Shane Morris knows the quarterback competition that will begin in August during Michigan's preseason camp will be heated.

After all, Jake Rudock, a seasoned two-year starter at Iowa is now here, vying for a chance to start for the Wolverines and coach Jim Harbaugh. Rudock is a graduate transfer with one year of eligibility. Throw into the mix redshirt freshman Wilton Speight, and freshmen Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry, along with Houston transfer John O'Korn, who is not eligible this fall, and anything could happen.

Morris, a strong-armed left-hander, is determined to be the starter this fall as a junior after spending the last two seasons as a backup. Morris and Rudock worked at Michigan's high school quarterback camp on Saturday that also attracted Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, along with a who's who of former Michigan quarterbacks like Rick Leach, John Wangler, Elvis Grbac, Todd Collins, Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner and Harbaugh.

"Right now I'm the starting quarterback, so it's my job to lose," Morris said confidently while taking a short break working with the high school quarterbacks at Glick Fieldhouse. "They brought a bunch of guys in to compete, take my spot, but that's my mentality right now."

Rudock said he has been on campus for five weeks and has acclimated well. He sought a transfer earlier this year after Iowa released a spring depth chart that had him behind C.J. Beathard. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz gave Rudock his transfer with "no strings attached."

Last season, Rudock threw for 2,436 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions and ranked second in the Big Ten in completion percentage (61.7 percent).

Asked his approach given Morris' take on the situation, Rudock said he is more focused on fitting in and leading. He said he's at the building every day, participating in seven-on-seven drills and trying to learn the offense.

"I want to play, that's the biggest thing," Rudock said shortly after the campers completed a spirited game of dodgeball at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. "Every guy who's in that locker room wants to go out there and play. I had to compete every single year at Iowa, so this is very similar in that regard. Big Ten football, you've got to earn everything you get. It's just the name of the game, that's how football is, and that's big for coach Harbaugh, too. Nothing's ever given; everything is always earned.

"Right now I'm not really focused on that. I'm just focused on meshing with the guys, understanding them. Every guy responds differently. Some guys need a little encouragement, some guys need a little kick in the butt. It's been a lot of fun (being here). All the guys have been really receptive. Everyone wants to win here -- that's the biggest thing I've noticed just being on campus for five weeks."

Clearly, Rudock is meshing with the team.

Jake Rudock

"Are you telling them I taught you everything you know?" linebacker Desmond Morgan said as he passed behind Rudock.

"I'm trying to understand that guy because he's going to be tackling people, making sacks, making plays for us," Rudock said to a small group of reporters, regarding Morgan.

Harbaugh was the main draw for Rudock, who said he considered a "couple" programs after seeing he might be in the "market" for a grad transfer. But he also has a past with receivers coach / pass game coordinator Jedd Fisch, who tried to recruit Rudock out of St. Aquinas in south Florida.

Rudock admits it's strange playing for a team he once played against.

"It was weird the first week," Rudock said. "After that, these are our guys now, these are my brothers now. I still have great friendships at Iowa. (But) first week, yeah, a little weird. Never thought (I'd) transition schools, but now I'm feeling a lot more comfortable definitely with the guys and the city and just with the team as a whole."