By now, it’s pretty clear that Jake Rudock will be the Michigan Wolverines’ starting quarterback in 2015. There really isn’t a sane-minded person out there who feels otherwise. The senior transfer from Iowa was once recruited by passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch and was essentially hand-picked to get the show on the road this fall in Ann Arbor.
"I am excited for Jake to get here and compete with the quarterbacks that we already have in the program," Fisch said through a team release in April. "I've known Jake for a long time, since 2011, and I am excited to be a part of the staff that is now coaching him."
The relationship stems back to Fisch’s days with the Miami Hurricanes. In 2011, Fisch, then Miami’s offensive coordinator, targeted Rudock, a former star at St. Thomas Aquinas, a nationally recognized Floridian prep powerhouse.
"I think that Jake brings great maturity and experience to the program,” Fisch said in the release. “He has 25 starts under his belt in the Big Ten and a winning record of 15-10. All of that, combined with the quarterbacks we currently have in the program and all the skill we are surrounding him with, we are excited about the things that Jake can do for our program."
So yeah, with all of that said, odds are certainly in favor for Rudock, who, barring wild and unforeseen events, is all but a lock for the No. 1 position come opening day—a clash Sept. 3 versus the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
In 2014, he guided the Hawkeyes to a 6-2 start. Things got rough, though. The Hawkeyes finished 7-6 after losing the TaxSlayer Bowl to the Tennessee Volunteers, 45-28. Nonetheless, Rudock is Michigan’s only proven option. There isn’t one quarterback on coach Jim Harbaugh’s roster who boasts anything close to Rudock’s track record.
Rudock is a standard 6’3” and 208 pounds. He has an average arm and slightly decent wheels—again, nothing groundbreaking by any means. But as Fisch mentioned, Rudock’s experience and maturity make him a prime candidate for the starting role.
Call your bookie and put the house, car(s) and kids’ college funds on Rudock as soon as humanly possible. You. Can’t. Lose. Kidding. Don’t do that. And to make things clear, the following odds are for entertainment purposes only.
Morris Lands at 3-1
Unfortunately for Shane Morris, the road to starting looks like it’s getting longer and longer each day. The onetime golden boy of Michigan high school football probably didn’t plan on sitting for years on end, but that’s the scenario he faces today as he enters his junior year.
He’s had two starts, and neither one was great. A so-so spring game didn’t help his cause either. However, that didn’t stop Harbaugh from tabbing his former Warren De La Salle star as the No. 1 guy after the exhibition.
"If I looked at it over all of spring ball, Shane would be ahead, and the competition will rage on, though, starting tomorrow—through April, into May, June, July and August,” Harbaugh said.
Of course, that was just was probably just a move for the sake of making a move. At that point on April 4, Harbaugh had limited options: Morris, Alex Malzone, who’ll be covered later, and Wilton Speight, who’ll also be examined, were the only choices available.
As explained before in earlier articles, there was no way that Michigan would enter summer without a publicly named No. 1, especially not under Harbaugh, a former Wolverines star signal-caller and 1986 Heisman Trophy finalist under coach Bo Schembechler.
There is plenty of upside for Morris, though. Well, at least perceived upside, something for which eternal optimists to cling: Morris still has a bit of the unknown factor going for him.
To date, Wolverines fans have yet to see him go a full Saturday on his own. In theory, it’d be nice for him to get that shot, as a spring game and two starts under shaky circumstances just aren’t enough to fully gauge the 6’3”, 209-pounder.
But it’s unlikely. Rudock would have to get injured or play beyond poorly in order for Morris to end up as the starter, at least as things stand today. However, camp has its way of deciding position battles, and the quarterback spot is the most important for a Jim Harbaugh-coached team.
Morris will compete. You can bet on that.
Tab Gentry as a 4-1
Technically speaking, Zach Gentry was Harbaugh’s first quarterback target. Harbaugh immediately chased 4-star Brandon Peters for 2016, but his last-minute move to sign Gentry, a 4-star from Albuquerque, New Mexico, certainly sent a message: He wasn’t completely satisfied with what he had, so he had to pick up groceries on the way.
That point of view is based on the idea of Alex Malzone being the only quarterback of the 2015 class—that was the plan under former coach Brady Hoke.
At 6’7” and 230 pounds, Gentry is big, big, big. Big arm, big body. He runs a 4.68-second 40-yard dash too. Imagine an impromptu dash to the sidelines and a 60-yard toss to a wide-open Amara Darboh or Jehu Chesson.
That could happen this fall. Most likely during a relief appearance, though. Morris would have to hit rock bottom before Gentry got a shot. Rudock would have to be M.I.A.
Don’t count on Gentry being the starter come opening day.
Put Malzone at 7-1
Alex Malzone could end up redshirting this season, especially if Gentry performs well during camp. There’d be no sense in carrying any more QBs than needed and needlessly burning a year of Malzone’s eligibility.
Starting opposite of Morris during the spring game, Malzone made his debut at The Big House in front of at least 50,000 eager fans. Everyone wanted to see the former Birmingham Brother Rice star. Three state championships, All-American qualities—he was “it,” even if for a brief moment.
But everyone found out that he needed more work before becoming a serious candidate for the job in 2015.
"Anything's good for him. He's so young. He should be in high school right now and he's out there competing in an 11-on-11 football game," Harbaugh said on April 4. "That's valuable, valuable type of experience. He did good things. He managed the game, controlled the huddle, made some plays and got great experience for him. Anything he gets right now [benefits], and to play in an entire, full spring game as a true freshman, that's money in the bank.
"He has a place to go from now and to improve from—it’s a start for him. So yeah, we’re pleased [with his work thus far].”
If Hoke were still the coach, Wilton Speight would probably have a realistic chance of at least being the Wolverines’ No. 2 guy this season—right behind Morris. But Hoke isn’t the coach, and since it released him, Michigan has gone out of its way to find more arms.
At 6’6” and 234 pounds, Speight, a redshirt freshman, has the prototypical size that most coaches love—Harbaugh included. Speight could have jumped into the race this past spring, but he wasn’t physically able to play during the April scrimmage.
His clock is ticking—and fast. If he doesn’t cement himself as a top-two or –three contender this fall, he may never see the field as a starter in Ann Arbor.
You will get struck by lightning and win the Mega Millions lottery (on the same day) before Garrett Moores, Brian Cleary, Joe Hewlett or Matt Thompson starts a Saturday for Harbaugh.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press release or other media availability.