“Who is this?”
“How did you get this number?”
“No, no, no, sir. I’m his son.”
“I was think …”
“Jeff, coach. Jeff Junior.”
“So I was think …”
“How did you get this number?”
It ain’t for the football. Start there. Jeff George Jr. couldn’t hold down the fort at Illinois, where Lovie Smith is still waiting for the cavalry, or an NFL parachute, to arrive.
In 11 appearances over the last two autumns with the Fighting Illini, Michigan’s newest quarterback transfer completed more than half his passes only three times, and more than 60 percent of his passes just once — an 18-for-23 showing at Minnesota last Oct. 21.
Illinois went 1-10 in those contests, although that one victory was notable given the buzz from Wednesday: It was over Michigan State, at home, in November 2016. The son of the former No. 1 pick in the 1990 NFL Draft threw 2 touchdown passes to rally the hosts to a 31-27 win over Sparty, the Illini’s final victory in Lovie’s first season at the helm.
Which means George Jr. has as many wins over Mark Dantonio over the last 24 months as Harbaugh, if that floats your boat. Annnnnnnnd … we’re sorta guessing that it doesn’t.
Jeff George Jr. is headed to Michigan? To do what?
— Dave Wischnowsky (@wischlist) June 13, 2018
In February, CollegeFootballNews.com’s Pete Fiutak put together a list of the top 20 grad transfer quarterbacks still looking for a home and where he thought they’d land.
Junior checked in at No. 17, earmarked for a move to the FCS. And Fiutak was blunt in his assessment of Junior’s less-than-stellar CV thus far:
CollegeFootballNews.com’s No. 1 free agent? Wilton Speight.
So, no, he’s not Hunter Johnson, whose recent jump from Clemson to Evanston will likely keep Northwestern interesting/annoying, depending on your camp. He’s not even Speight on a good day.
At first blush, the whole thing smells like a career move. A non-playing career move. Say what you will about Harbaugh the Quarterback Whisperer, but the man’s coaching tree continues to bear fruit — Willie Taggart, D.J. Durkin, etc. — for other athletic directors to pick.
If you’re thinking about coaching, long-term, Harbaugh’s brain is worth picking, too. Junior, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection who’s graduating from Illinois’ College of Business, is no dummy. A résumé with Harbaugh’s name on it is going to get more looks, in any walk of life, than the ones that don’t.
For George The Second, the floor is a graduate degree from one of the best schools on the continent and a free trip to South Africa. For Harbaugh, it’s a depth play, more insurance in case the Grim Reaper decides it might be fun to extend his lease inside the Michigan quarterback room.
The Jeff George Jr. outrage from Michigan Twitter is silly. He wants to learn the QB position from an experienced QB developer, and was willing to take a walk-on spot to do so.
— LG (@LGhail) June 13, 2018
And funny how some things come full circle. Junior’s first collegiate appearance came in Ann Arbor against Michigan during a 41-8 pounding back in October 2016. No. 3 attempted 15 passes that day, completed 4, threw a touchdown and an interception, and got sacked by Mo Hurst for a 13-yard loss. It’s like they always say: If you can’t beat ’em, hold a clipboard for ’em.