Michigan Football: Examining Wilton Speight's Play at the UA All-American Game

Tom Logan@ThomasDLoganCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2014

Jan 2, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Team Nitro quarterback Wilton Speight (19) throws the ball during the first half against Team Highlight in the Under Armour All America football game at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While newly-hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will continue to dominate the headlines surrounding the Michigan football program, it's worth taking a closer look at one of the quarterbacks that'll soon be under his tutelage.

Wilton Speight, an ESPN 4-star recruit out of Collegiate School in Richmond, VA, enrolled early at Michigan and will participate in spring practices beginning in March. 

But prior to moving into his dorm room in Ann Arbor, Speight joined six fellow Michigan commits at the Under Armour All-American game in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

While analysts like Kyle Bogenschutz of Scout.com raved about his arm strength and accuracy in the days leading up to the game, Speight's overall performance on the main stage left a lot to be desired. 

Let's examine some of his game film from the Jan. 2 contest at Tropicana Field. 

After a running play to Minnesota commit (and Michigan target) Jeff Jones, Speight threw an eight-yard slant to Florida commit Ermon Lane.  

It didn't go well as he threw the football low and behind his intended receiver. We can probably attribute this throw to nerves, as he uncharacteristically short-armed his first pass of the game. With this being the first nationally televised throw of his career, I'll give him a free pass for this one.

This wildly thrown screen pass is a different story. While a few lineman were impeding his direct sight to his running back, he rushed this throw and sailed it over the head of Jones. 

While both linebackers read this play correctly and would have likely stopped Jones for a short gain, Speight missed the opportunity to take a few steps up in the pocket and deliver a clean strike to his running back. This was a poor throw with poor composure on behalf of the quarterback. 

On the positive side, the play shown below is a totally different story. This 26-yard passing play highlights Speight's ability to escape pressure, comfortably roll out of the pocket and keep his eyes downfield in the process.  

Speight's ability to make this throw on the run is also impressive, but I don't love that he's throwing across his body back towards the middle of the field. It works out well on this particular play because his receiver Braxton Berrios is wide open, but it's a high-risk throw that could spell disaster against Big Ten competition. 

This throw here was Speight's worst of the game, as he made No. 7 overall recruit Adoree' Jackson look like the intended receiver on the play. There was some pre-snap confusion with Jones in the backfield, and Speight either misunderstood the routes that his receivers were running or he just threw up a prayer to the back of the end zone. Either way, it wasn't pretty. 

Speight's final stat line was 2-6 for 63 yards with the interception. He made some nice plays and showed off impressive mobility, but he largely looked uncomfortable throughout the three possessions that he started for Team Nitro. He was also generally inaccurate with his throws and was lackadaisical in his handling of the snaps. 

To be fair to Speight, he was up against an elite group of defensive prospects and didn't have much time to throw, with Texas commit Derek Roberson and Texas A&M commit Myles Garrett leading the charge. 

He also performed well enough in practice to earn the starting job. To emerge as one of the top quarterbacks in the midst of some of the nation's best is no small achievement. 

Speight should benefit immensely from the hiring of Nussmeier, who is a former NFL quarterback himself and is widely credited with developing quarterbacks like Marc Bulger, Jake Locker, Keith Price and most recently AJ McCarron. 

Can he do the same with the raw but talented Speight? 

Follow Tom on Twitter @TomLogan_BR.