Shane Morris leads Michigan's quarterback competition

ByDan Murphy via ESPN logo
Saturday, April 4, 2015

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Junior Shane Morris is in the lead of Michigan's crowded quarterback competition at the end of the team's spring season. Morris completed 11 of 24 pass attempts for 135 yards and a touchdown to lead his half of the roster to a 7-0 win in a full-contact spring game Saturday afternoon.

Afterward, head coach Jim Harbaugh said the lefty separated himself from several other players competing for the spot during the past month.

"If I look at it overall in spring ball, Shane would be ahead," Harbaugh said."The competition will rage on, though, starting tomorrow."

Morris outplayed early enrollee Alex Malzone (15-of-27, 95 yards, 2 interceptions) on Saturday. Redshirt freshman Wilton Speight did not take any snaps in the game.

That trio will face more competition this summer when former Iowa starter Jake Rudock arrives on campus as a graduate student transfer. Rudock, who was cleared to join the Wolverines earlier this week, has far more starting experience than any quarterback currently on the Michigan roster after two seasons running the Hawkeyes offense.

Morris started two games in his first two seasons. He said he had not heard any news about other quarterbacks joining the team, but he welcomed any competition.

"You can bring in 100 quarterbacks, it's not going to matter to me," Morris said.

Saturday was Morris' first appearance in the Big House since he suffered a concussion in a game against Minnesota last September. That incident served as a catalytic domino in a chain of events that led to campus protests and the eventual resignation of athletic director Dave Brandon.

Morris said he was happy to get back on the field and put that part of his Michigan career behind him.

"It's not really a big part of my life. I don't want it to be," he said. "I came here to be a starting quarterback and be a successful starting quarterback at the University of Michigan and that's what I plan on doing."

Harbaugh praised the junior's ability to stand in the pocket and take a few blows from oncoming defensive linemen during the game. Quarterbacks were fair game to be tackled, a rarity in spring games, and Morris made a couple of impressive throws under duress.

"He played with real good courage in the pocket. He stayed in there and made some good throws," Harbaugh said. "I think he'll come out of this feeling good about the way he played and it will build some good confidence."

Morris said he'll spend the next few months working on improving his timing with wide receivers and learning the nuances of Harbaugh's offense. His teammates said they've seen Morris' confidence grow during spring practice, and he hopes that shows when the quarterback battle resumes in August with new contenders for the job.

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