For all intents and purposes, Michigan quarterback recruit Shane Morris has lost his five-star ranking.
Three out of the four main recruiting services now consider Morris to be a four-star recruit, with the exception being Scout.com.
247Sports, ESPN RecruitingNation and yes, Rivals.com all have Morris ranked as a four-star quarterback heading into national signing day, and for those who have followed Morris' recruitment—this is big news. He's been considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the 2013 class, and he has incredible potential.
Morris earned the five-star ranking from Rivals in August 2012, and the hype surrounding his commitment was undeniable—especially among Michigan fans.
His senior year was cut short due to a bout with mono, though, and his showing in the Under Armour All-America game was disappointing, to say the least. His throws lacked any natural "zip," and he seemed to be rather uncomfortable in the pocket. Morris went 2-of-10 for 23 yards and threw one interception in that game.
From a scouting perspective, here's what Mike Farrell of Rivals.com has to say about Morris' downgrade:
Another quarterback who was once a five-star, Shane Morris, fell to four stars and the bottom line was this—Morris struggles with progressions and throwing across his body and until those things are corrected, there was no way to justify keeping him as a five-star. Strong arm or not, mononucleosis or not, the quarterback position is scrutinized the most and Morris didn't play up to his status.
There's no doubting the fact that Morris' stock has fallen a bit in the world of college football recruiting, but that should mean nothing to Brady Hoke and the Wolverines.
The key word with Morris is potential. Hoke didn't recruit Morris because of what he did in high school, he recruited him because of the potential that he possesses. Despite the rough patch that Morris has hit, he still has arguably the strongest arm out of any quarterback recruit in this class, and he still possesses the intangibles that lead one to believe he can be a great quarterback at the college level.
He has a strong arm, good size and he has the ability to move around in the pocket and make something happen. He generally throws a solid ball to the sideline and he has tremendous touch.
Michigan is looking to transition to the pro-style offense, and Morris is still the perfect quarterback to lead the Wolverines during that transition, and he'll do it as a four- or five-star recruit.
At this point, the star doesn't matter, so Michigan shouldn't be to worried about the downgrade.
With Devin Gardner at the helm for at least one more season (potentially two if he gets a medical redshirt), Michigan can afford to redshirt Morris, which will give him the time to develop as a quarterback. Morris can take his time getting to know the system while working on his fundamentals and timing during practice.
Even if he doesn't redshirt, he'll still have at least one season where not much is expected of him besides learning the scheme and transitioning to the college game. If he did play, it would be in relief situations, and even that depends on the development of Russell Bellomy and whether or not he can step up, if needed.
Will Morris become an elite QB?
The simple fact of the matter is that Michigan doesn't need Morris to be ranked as a five-star quarterback in order for him to be successful.
Michigan needs Morris to do his best to get better and get to a point where he can play like a five-star quarterback—no matter what he's ranked coming in.
After all, you don't recruit a quarterback just because he has a five-star ranking. You recruit him because you believe he can play like a five-star quarterback.