The Michigan football team opens spring practice on Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has plenty to shore up with the Wolverines as they prepare for the 2018 season.
Former Michigan and NFL running back Chris Howard says the focus should be on fixing Michigan’s offensive line. Land of 10 reporter Rachel Lenzi says the focus should be on determining a starting quarterback.
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING JIM HARBAUGH NEEDS TO ACCOMPLISH IN SPRING PRACTICE?
RACHEL LENZI: PICK A QUARTERBACK
The starting quarterback is the most important player for the Michigan football program. For any program, for that matter.
Jim Harbaugh needs to pick his team’s starting quarterback. The quarterback leads the team onto the field — not a running back, defensive lineman or wide receiver. It will be Shea Patterson, Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton.
Logic says this should be an easy decision. Patterson should be the starting quarterback, given his experience and his ability to produce. But if the NCAA denies his request for an eligibility waiver after his transfer from Ole Miss, it changes the focus on Michigan’s quarterbacks competition.
This decision that will affect the Wolverines over the next 10 months, and Harbaugh needs to stick with whichever quarterback he picks.
Harbaugh, who relishes the spotlight, is the face of the Michigan football program. The quarterback is the face of the team, and Harbaugh needs the person who can handle the spotlight.
Patterson proved he is capable in two seasons at Ole Miss. Peters is in the process of learning how to do that. He got on-the-job training in 2017, though he struggled at times.
McCaffrey grew up in a family accustomed to the football life. His father, Ed, was an NFL wide receiver. His mother, Lisa, was a soccer star at Stanford University. His older brothers, Christian and Max, play in the NFL.
Milton has been under a spotlight since he verbally committed to Michigan in May 2017. He stuck with his commitment despite continued attention from recruiters during his senior year of high school.
Of the four quarterbacks, Harbaugh and his coaching staff have to ask a few questions:
- Who is the most committed to the program?
- Who is the most prepared entering spring practice, and who will continue to prepare during the summer for preseason camp?
- Who inspires the most confidence in his teammates?
- Who can make plays behind a questionable offensive line?
- Who has chemistry with the wide receivers?
- Who has the most poise, even when things get hectic on the field?
Most important, who do the coaches trust most to get the job done?
Harbaugh has to decide who will best guide his team on the field and who will best represent it off the field.
It is the most important decision Harbaugh will make this spring.