The door is apparently open for Wilton Speight to return to Michigan.
Speight, Michigan’s starter at quarterback to begin the last two seasons, announced in November that he would pursue a graduate transfer for his final season of college football. But with spring semesters across the country already underway, Speight told The Detroit News last week that he would wait until the summer to decide his transfer destination.
On Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reported that Speight, who has been training in Los Angeles, could actually return to Ann Arbor. But there are some caveats. You see, Michigan landed Shea Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss who was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the class of 2016. Patterson left Ole Miss in the wake of the Rebels’ NCAA scandal, but needs a waiver in order to suit up immediately for the Wolverines in 2018. The waiver being granted is no sure thing and could end up playing a role in Speight’s decision.
A source with knowledge of former Michigan starter Wilton Speight’s thinking told the Free Press on Thursday the quarterback would be open to returning to the Wolverines next season if incoming transfer Shea Patterson is ruled ineligible for 2018 by the NCAA.
According to the source, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has told Speight he would be open to the quarterback returning to school if Speight would like to.
The waiver process for Patterson is expected to play out over the next few months, so Speight should have plenty of time to weigh his options. If Patterson is not granted the waiver, he must sit out for a season like any other transfer would before being eligible for his final two seasons, beginning in 2019.
If Patterson has to sit, redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters would be the favorite to start — if Speight doesn’t come back into the picture.
After redshirting in 2014 and serving as a backup in 2015, Speight became the team’s starting quarterback in 2016. That season, Speight started 12 games and threw for 2,538 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 61.6 percent of his passes. The Wolverines opened won nine straight to open the season with Speight playing well, but he struggled mightily down the stretch.
UM coach Jim Harbaugh opened the quarterback competition entering 2017, and Speight again emerged as the top option. He started the team’s first four games before suffering a serious back injury against Purdue on Sept. 23. That kept him out the rest of the season and moved senior John O’Korn into the starting lineup. O’Korn’s play was inconsistent, prompting Harbaugh to put Peters, a redshirt freshman, into the lineup.
Peters was an upgrade over O’Korn until he went down with a concussion against Wisconsin. O’Korn struggled in a loss to Ohio State and Peters returned as the starter for the Outback Bowl against South Carolina. He struggled mightily, completing 20-of-44 passes for 186 yards and two interceptions in a 26-19 loss.
In addition to Peters, Michigan also returns redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey and will have true freshman Joe Milton in the picture in 2018. They will compete with Peters to start if Patterson’s waiver does not come through — and if Speight doesn’t return to Ann Arbor.
– – – – – – –