The future of the Michigan football program looks brighter than ever thanks to the Big Ten Conference's decision to grant quarterback Devin Gardner's request for a medical redshirt. Gardner is not the only beneficiary from his extra year of eligibility, though.
Incoming freshman signal-caller Shane Morris will be reaping the benefits of the Wolverines' additional season with Gardner running the offense as well.
With Gardner in the fold for both the 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Morris is now a serious candidate to redshirt as a true freshman this year.
Although Morris will have to hold a clipboard on the sidelines for longer than expected, it is a blessing in disguise for the 4-star prospect.
Despite the fact Morris already has enough arm strength to play at the college level, there are several other aspects of his game that need polishing.
The first priority for Morris will be to put on some much-needed muscle. Morris currently checks in at 6'3" and 190 pounds, but in order to withstand the physical brand of football played in the Big Ten, he will need to add another 15 to 20 pounds.
Another important part of Morris' development will be his passing accuracy. This is the No. 1 concern an ESPN analyst raised after scouting Morris:
The biggest issue or potential negative with Morris is his accuracy. His completion percentage is nowhere near where it should be given his tools and this is an area in need of significant improvement. He cannot afford to be erratic and must become accurate on a consistent basis in the 64 percent-plus range.
The Warren, Mich. product will have plenty of time to shore up his accuracy over the course of the next two years. Under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Al Borges, there is no doubt Morris will improve quickly.
Borges is known for developing quarterbacks, mainly former UCLA Bruin Cade McNown. With the help of Borges, McNown went from being one of the least efficient Pac-10 quarterbacks to the best in the country in 1997.
Allowing Morris to develop without having to compete for the starting job or being thrown into the fire too early will also help boost his confidence. A quarterback without confidence is a disaster waiting to happen.
By the time Morris gets on the field, most likely in 2015, the personnel around him will be much more developed.
Michigan's offensive line, which is expected to feature as many as three underclassmen this season, should be among the best in the country. The Wolverines will also have a veteran group of wide receivers, headlined by rising sophomore Amara Darboh or any of the other four prospects they have hauled in over the past two years.
Young tight ends Devin Funchess, A.J. Williams and Jake Butt are all going to be important cogs in the Wolverines' pro-style attack as well.
Five-star running back Derrick Green will take plenty of pressure off of Morris. He could be an All-Big Ten performer, once the De La Salle High School alum is taking snaps with the first-team offense.
The Maize and Blue were already on the rise thanks to their top-10 recruiting classes in 2012 and 2013, but Garnder's extra year has secured an even brighter future for Morris and the Wolverines.
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