Harbaugh: Speight, O'Korn, Peters in 'dead heat' for first-string QB

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Brandon Peters

Chicago — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said there is no hierarchy in the quarterback race, and all are on equal footing as camp opens Monday.

Redshirt junior Wilton Speight was the full-time starter last season, but redshirt freshman Brandon Peters and senior John O’Korn are pushing him for the starting job.

“So Wilton’s in a good spot,” Harbaugh said Tuesday at Big Ten media days. “He comes in really tied for first with John O’Korn and Brandon Peters, legitimately, through competition, throughout the spring went through 15 practices and was a dead heat.

“But the good news is they all did some things that really — Brandon really shot up. John O’Korn really played consistently good. And Wilton really had some impressive moments as well.”

Harbaugh used a familiar refrain, saying they will “throw the balls out there and let the fellows compete” when camp begins.

“There’s a lot a quarterback can do over the summer to get better at playing quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “It’s one of those positions, like a kicker. A quarterback can just go out there and throw balls on the net, can work on their drops. There’s a lot of ways that they don’t even need other players to be out there to improve some part of their skill game. Much like a kicker.

“So you want to see what’s transpired over the summer and see who has gotten better and then who gives our team the best chance to move the ball, score touchdowns and put points on the board, not turn the all over and probably take about anywhere from eight to 15 practices to figure that out. Historically, that’s what it usually takes. But we’re looking forward to it.”

Jim Harbaugh answers questions at Big Ten media days on Tuesday.

Harbaugh had said last December during the annual football bust that Speight could be one of the best players in the country entering this year. He has praised O’Korn for his diligence during spring practices and said Peters has improved on becoming a more commanding presence at the position because he is naturally quiet.

“Brandon Peters really elevated his game in the spring,” Harbaugh said. “Always noticed the really good ability of arm talent from Brandon. Good, natural thrower of the football. He elevated his game on a competitive level. He’s got a personality that’s very quiet. Probably the one thing he needs to do as a quarterback, just take charge, be loud, and that doesn’t come as natural to him. He was coming out of that.”

He was asked how he coaches a player to be loud. Harbaugh said it’s easy and then loudly barked, “Blue 80! Blue 80!”

“That’s the easiest thing about being a quarterback to me,” Harbaugh said. “Be louder, Brandon, please. But he’s coming out of it.”


Twitter: @chengelis