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Johnson: Three Michigan QB candidates ‘doing well’

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Shane Morris

Ann Arbor – Roughly two weeks into camp, Michigan senior running back Drake Johnson has been impressed with what he’s seen so far in the three-man race between junior Wilton Speight, senior Shane Morris and Houston transfer John O’Korn for the starting quarterback job.

Johnson said all three have all been “doing well,” but was mum on whether a frontrunner has emerged.

“Each of them has different aspects of them, almost like a niche. Each of them has got this little tweak to them that’s a little bit different than the next one,” Johnson said after Wednesday’s practice. “I just think whoever does end up starting, it’s weird because it’s not like there’s going to be different offenses. Almost each quarterback can throw a little twist on the offense.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens because quarterback is commander in chief of the offense so if you have a different commander in chief it’s going to be run a different way, different decisions are going to be made. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out, but I like them. I couldn’t say I honestly dislike one guy. I like the subtleties each bring to their game.”

As the team continues to break in a new starter, Johnson said he doesn’t feel there’s any extra pressure or added emphasis on the running backs to run the ball well early on because that’s always an expectation.

Johnson added the competition at quarterback is more of an actual battle compared to last year when graduate transfer Jake Rudock won the No. 1 role. Johnson said Rudock was “so mentally there” it was just a matter of him getting his timing down with the offense.

O’Korn, who sat out 2015 due to transfer rules, enters with the most experience of the bunch, with 16 starts in 20 games at Houston. Speight appeared in six games as a reserve last season while Morris has played in 10 games with two starts in his career, but didn’t play at all last year.

Johnson said he thinks the starting job this year won’t come down to timing, but rather which quarterback can establish a rhythm the quickest.

“I think whoever gets into it first and has the best rhythm in accordance with the rest of the team because you know you can be out on your own beaten path but it’s not going to do you any good,” Johnson said. “If you can gel with the rest of the team and the rest of offense, I think that will be the difference between who’s going to start and who’s not going to start.”