The Michigan football program has not been in the news a whole lot through the first four months of the college football offseason, but quarterback Brandon Mitchell has helped the Wolverines grab some headlines.
Mitchell and three of his teammates are transferring from Arkansas. On Thursday, he announced that he is considering five schools to play out his final year of eligibility. Michigan, N.C. State, UAB, Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State all made the cut (via ESPN).
If the Wolverines wind up landing Mitchell, it will give them some much needed depth at quarterback. Rising redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy was expected to be the No. 2 signal-caller this season before he suffered a torn ACL in April. This has forced Michigan to hold a summer competition between walk-on Brian Cleary and incoming freshman Shane Morris for the backup role.
Basically, there would be a major drop-off in talent at the position if Gardner had to miss any time, which would all but ruin the Wolverines' Big Ten Conference title aspirations. Bringing Mitchell to Ann Arbor could bridge the gap.
This is not the first time Michigan has recruited Mitchell either. Back in 2009, former head coach Rich Rodriguez offered Mitchell a scholarship. Just a few days after pondering a visit to campus, however, Mitchell committed to Arkansas.
The 6'4", 239-pounder has great speed (4.5 second 40-yard dash) and has been a relatively accurate passer in limited action with the Razorbacks. In 21 appearances, Mitchell completed 25-of-43 pass attempts for 332 yards and two touchdowns. Mitchell has also caught 17 passes for 272 yards and rushed for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
While it is unlikely Mitchell would see a whole lot of time at quarterback, his athleticism would allow Michigan to incorporate a wildcat package, or add another deep-threat to its receiving corps.
Unfortunately, this is not the kind of role the Amite, La. native wants to play at this stage of his career. The main reason why Mitchell is transferring is because sophomore Brandon Allen took the top spot on Arkansas' depth chart this spring. Mitchell wants to be a starting quarterback.
Unless Mitchell is willing to be a utility man in Michigan's offense, it is highly unlikely he winds up donning the winged helmet.
There is a numbers issue for the Wolverines as well. Kaleb Ringer's decision to leave the program has left Michigan with 85 scholarship players, which is all the NCAA allows a team to have. Adding Mitchell would force someone else to depart.
It never hurts to bring in a talented athlete like Mitchell, but the timing is not right for either party. Expect Mitchell to wind up at N.C. State, where he is visiting this weekend, or UAB since he has a past relationship with head coach Garrick McGee.
Wolverine fans will simply have to hope Gardner remains healthy for the entire 2013 campaign. Mitchell could have solved Michigan's depth issues, but it appears the Wolverines will have to press on without him.
Follow me on Twitter: @Zach_Dirlam.
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