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Magnuson throwing Wolverines QB guessers off their game

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan offensive lineman Erik Magnuson

Ann Arbor — Everyone knows the quarterbacks competing for the starting job at Michigan can throw.

They also can throw smokescreens with the best of them.

The quarterbacks, joined by many of their teammates, including the original instigator — tackle Erik Magnuson — insist that a surprise candidate has emerged in the quarterback competition that features John O’Korn, Wilton Speight and Shane Morris.

“Everybody’s doing really good, but there’s a dark horse in the battle,” tight end Jake Butt said Friday when asked if he could evaluate the real quarterback competition. “Erik Magnuson’s really been coming on strong toward the end of camp. He’s hitting the deep balls really well. Coaches are really impressed with him.”

Magnuson recently announced on social media that he is the Michigan starting quarterback and added a photo of him in a QB pose as confirmation. In reality, the actual quarterbacks said a decision has not been made eight days  from the season opener. 

The Magnuson “talk” has been an easy diversion for anyone answering questions about the quarterbacks, and they all play along as they joke around with media.

“Us three take about 30 percent of the reps, and the other 70 percent goes to Erik Magnuson,” O’Korn said with a straight face. “So, we’re splitting reps.”

Morris shared his evaluation of the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Magnuson’s quarterback ability.

Harbaugh not tipping hand on Michigan starting QB

“Erik is playing really well,” Morris said. “He’s taken some snaps, mainly shotgun, because he really can’t take under-center snap, so he does a lot of drop back and throws it deep. He can’t really take a lot of reps. He’s taken about 20 percent of the reps because he gets winded. He’s not really used to dropping back and running around back there.

“I think he’s got a 75-percent completion percentage, all passes over 40 yards, though. This kid’s got a cannon. So hopefully you might see him this year. He’s kind of the dark horse in this competition I would say.”

Speight shed some light on a story Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh recently told SiriusXM College Sports, about O’Korn and Speight keeping secrets from each other this summer when they arranged throwing sessions with receivers.

“That kind of blew out of proportion and (Harbaugh) thought it was funny,” Speight said.

Speight said he and O’Korn were upfront and would text each other to check on availability to hold these informal throwing workouts.

“I think the receivers thought it was funny, offensive lineman, everyone, to blow the whole competition out of proportion this summer,” Speight said. “If John would get here five minutes before me one day, I’d walk in and the lineman would be like, ‘Ooooo, John was here five minutes earlier. Who’s going to start?’ That kind of grew and grew into a joke.”

Magnuson, of course, has the last laugh.

Twitter: @chengelis