Dating to 2007, Michigan has landed 10 quarterback commits.
The final recruiting class of the Lloyd Carr era came in 2007. Then, from the Rich Rodriguez era (2008-2010) to the Brady Hoke era (2011-2014), the recruitment of high-profile quarterbacks became scarce. Just one 5-star prospect – Ryan Mallett – came to Michigan in the era and the rest were 4-star prospects and below.
Two exceeded expectations while the rest have flopped.
Here’s a look back at Michigan’s recruitment of the most important position in football.
2007: Ryan Mallett, 5 stars
The final class that Carr recruited included the nation’s fifth-best prospect in 2007. There were high expectations for Ryan Mallett at Michigan. He was set to be the successor to Chad Henne, but it never happened.
When the Rich Rodriguez spread offense came to Ann Arbor, Mallett elected to transfer to Arkansas, where he broke 16 school records.
In Rich Rod’s first recruiting class, he didn’t bring in a quarterback.
2009: Tate Forcier, 4 stars; Denard Robinson, 4 stars
This class was … interesting.
Of course, Tate Forcier lit it up his true freshman season. The 4-star quarterback from San Diego came in as the No. 114 overall prospect. He threw for 2,050 yards and ran for 240. After Michigan’s 3-9 2008 season, Forcier led the team to a 4-0 start in 2009 before finishing 5-7. Forcier lost the starting job his sophomore season to Denard Robinson. He later transferred and fell off the map. He had a short stint in the CFL.
Robinson electrified college football for his entire career at Michigan. An injury during his senior season set him back, which led to Devin Gardner taking over. But in his three years, Robinson passed for 6,250 yards and rushed for 4,495 with a combined 91 touchdowns.
He is the NCAA record holder for rushing yards by a quarterback in his career (4,495) and in a single-season (1,702). He was the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500. Robinson currently plays running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
2010: Devin Gardner, 4 stars
A home-state kid from Inkster, Mich., Gardner was a must-get for the Wolverines. He was in their backyard and he lit up the state in high school football.
Gardner had a hot start to his career at Michigan. In his sophomore season, he began to take over the quarterback position while Robinson was hurt. He finished with four starts that season, in the final four games, with 1,219 yards and 18 combined touchdowns (11 passing, 7 rushing) to 5 interceptions.
He continued to light up the stat sheet as he broke the record at Michigan for the most passing yards in a game (503) and total yards (584) against Indiana in his junior season.
In his final season, he threw just 10 touchdowns to a whopping 15 interceptions. He finished 15-13 at Michigan.
2011: Russell Bellomy, 3 stars
Bellomy finished his career 4 of 23 for 46 yards with zero touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He stayed four years at Michigan, then transferred to UTSA.
The first full class for Brady Hoke didn’t include a quarterback.
2013: Shane Morris, 4 stars
One of the most-hyped recruits in the modern era of recruiting, Morris was one of the biggest busts, too.
Morris started at quarterback twice for Michigan. In 2013, he started for an injured Gardner in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. And he started over Gardner in 2014 during the Minnesota game, when he suffered a concussion that would cause controversy.
Morris never started another game after that. In his career in Ann Arbor, he went 47 of 92 for 411 yards. He never threw a touchdown pass but racked up 4 interceptions.
He came in as the nation’s No. 72 overall prospect. After the 2016 season, he announced he would transfer from Michigan.
2014: Wilton Speight, 3 stars
He nearly transferred after Jim Harbaugh’s arrival at Michigan, but Speight, the quarterback of Brady Hoke’s final recruiting class, went from fourth string to backup in 2015. Speight led Michigan to a dramatic win over Minnesota in 2015, when he replaced an injured Jake Rudock (a graduate transfer from Iowa).
In 2016, he became the starting quarterback. Missing one game because of injury, Speight started 12 games for Michigan, leading the Wolverines to a 10-3 record with the three losses coming by a combined five points.
Speight went 204 of 331 (61 percent) for 2,538 yards in his first season as the starter. He totaled 19 combined touchdowns (18 passing, 1 rushing) to 7 interceptions.
2015: Zach Gentry, 4 stars; Alex Malzone, 4 stars
Jim Harbaugh came in for the final month of the 2015 recruiting cycle. One of his big additions was 6-foot-7 Zach Gentry, the nation’s No. 8 quarterback. Gentry hasn’t played a down since arriving, and now plays tight end/wide receiver for the Wolverines.
Alex Malzone was a crown jewel for Hoke. When Harbaugh came in, Malzone decided to stick with the class. Though Harbaugh never released a depth chart in 2016, Malzone looks to be sitting at or near the very bottom of it.
2016: Brandon Peters, 4 stars
The first full class for Harbaugh at Michigan featured pro-style quarterback Brandon Peters. There are very high expectations for the former No. 61 overall prospect.
Expect him to be a part of the competition with Speight the next two seasons.
Success rate: 40 percent (4 of 10)
Michigan’s quarterbacks of the past 10 years have been known to not live up to the hype with names like Shane Morris and Tate Forcier. But there also have been guys like Denard Robinson and Wilton Speight who have exceeded their ceiling by a large margin.
Plus, Michigan has had four different head coaches through these 10 classes. The first coaching change led to losing the best pure quarterback of this group in Ryan Mallett.
Everyone knows the struggles of the past decade at Michigan. But back-to-back 10-win seasons have things looking up. And the future looks bright with Speight and Peters.