As the 2013 class wrapped up yesterday, Michigan landed its quarterback for the 2014 class, offering and receiving a commitment from Richmond (VA) Collegiate QB Wilton Speight. The Wolverines reportedly had Speight at the top of their board over OK QB David Cornwell and FL QB Michael O'Connor, and he jumped at the chance to be, at least for now, the lone quarterback in the class.
3*, 86, #23 PQB
It is, of course, still early yet in the 2014 recruiting cycle—only 247 has ranked Speight thus far, naming him a three-star and the #23 pro-style QB in the country. All but ESPN (6'5") peg his height at 6'6", with a listed weight between 217 and 225 pounds, prototypical size for a pocket passer.
The junior quarterback from Richmond (Va.) Collegiate showed off his skills to Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski on Friday. By all accounts, Speight did well.
"He was telling my coach that after five passes that coming down was worth the trip and everything he saw on my film was what he saw in person, which was what he was hoping for," Speight said of Hecklinski's evaluation. "It went really well. … In my opinion I threw really well. I threw one pass that was a little wobbly but I was just having a good time with my receivers. I thought I did completely fine."
Five days later, Speight had his first scholarship offer—clearly, Hecklinski liked what he saw.
Speight is a quarterback that can make all throws and also keep plays alive by dodging and breaking tackles in the pocket. Speight has a compact release, allowing him to make throws on time. Footwork is strength for Speight, as he shows proper steps on his throws inside the pocket and also has great mechanics when throwing on the move.
Being nit picky here, Speight can improve his throwing motion by following through on his throws and using his hips and legs to step into his passes better. Speight tends to throw off his back leg quite often, but gets away with it because of his arm strength at the high school level but could be a concern in college.
I largely agree with Brewster's assessment, though he fails to mention the hitch in Speight's delivery that will be apparent on film, and his arm strength isn't at a blue-chip level.
An important note: Speight was originally a 2013 recruit, but reclassified to 2014 after breaking his collarbone in the first game of his (first) junior season, per Scout's Kristin Kenney ($).
Michigan was Speight's first scholarship offer. He also had recent interest from Alabama, USC, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia; it's possible he was on the verge of several more offers if he'd remained uncommitted.
Some have asked for a new section in the commitment posts that mentions past players a recruit's high school has produced, so here you go. The Collegiate School hasn't produced a recruit above two stars on Rivals since 2002, but you've certainly heard of one of them: former NC State and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, class of 2007. The only other BCS recruit the school has produced is current Virginia starting tight end Jake McGee.
Per VirginiaPreps, Speight threw for 2504 yards and 28 touchdowns while adding 235 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as a junior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.73. Speight is definitely a pocket passer and doesn't look to have good speed on film, so that gets three FAKEs out of five.
I'm very impressed by Speight's accuracy, both in the pocket and on the run. He doesn't have a cannon for an arm and has a bit of a hitch in his delivery, but he still looks like he can make all the throws, and his touch and ability to change speeds is impressive for a high school prospect. His arm will keep him from being a top-flight prospect, but as a three-star I think he could be underrated.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
When Speight hits campus, Michigan will hopefully have Devin Gardner playing in his redshirt senior season, Russell Bellomy will be a redshirt junior, and Shane Morris will be either a redshirt freshman or a sophomore. Unless disaster strikes, Speight will be able to redshirt in 2014, and after that he'll compete with Morris for the starting job—he may be the one guy hoping Morris sees the field next year; if so, he could take over the job for two years even if he can't beat out Morris when he's at Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has their quarterback for the class, and TomVH seems to believe they'll stop at one ($). I'd like to see the Wolverines take another and build some real depth, but at the moment this is looking to be a smaller class: attrition will add to this number, but right now there are around 15 spots for the class, with two already filled by Speight and linebacker Michael Ferns. Big priorities for the 2014 class include wide receiver and strongside defensive end.
The way I see it having this guy come in behind Morris is great, with morris having some accuracy issues and Speight excelling in that area it will push Shane really hard to become better with his touch/accuracy and become an even better quarterback for our team.
He fits the mold for a proto typical "West Coast" offense QB. Good footwork will be key in the play action to the FB or H back. We are not going to get a top notch guy with Shane just signing so getting a kid you can coach up is perfect.
They're not even in a state-wide "class." They play in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association. The high school has 498 enrolled students, according to Wikipedia. It's a pretty small school, and the competition isn't very good. Obviously, good players can come from there (Russell Wilson), but you can say that about almost anywhere.
I wouldn't be super-quick to dismiss the VISAA as "not very good." Virginia doesn't mix public and private schools the way Michigan does under the umbrella of the MHSAA, so the VISAA is merely the private-school side of Virginia HS football. It's not as good overall as the upper levels of the VHSL (public schools) but Collegiate does play in VISAA's Division I, the highest level, and some decent players come out of there. The competition isn't bad at that level.
I'm not saying it's terrible, but it's not on the same level as the teams around Fairfax and D.C., and it's not on the same level as the teams in the Tidewater area. They're also generally small-ish schools, so you're not going to get the same level of participation and talent.
Pros: like his size, his pocket awareness, and the fact that he appears incapable of of throwing an incomplete pass.
Cons: not sure if it is a function of his mechanics or the fact that his receivers look to be 6 inches taller than every DB, but he throws a lot of moon balls. This works well for fades and such when you've got a size advantage on the outside, but the shorter throws over the middle didn't necessarily look to be on a rope.
I believe, based on the tweet below, that Cornwell had the opportunity to commit but didn't take it. Speight jumped on it, and Cornwell lost his spot. This is pure speculation, but I think Cornwell loved Michigan, and regrets wanting to take more time in the recruiting process (which I don't blame him for) to see what else was out there.
The BEST Lesson I can learn from this is, don't get caught up in the recruiting, find a coach and program you love and commit to them
Might sound "homer" of me but I read that as regret. Essentially, "playing the recruiting game" cost him a spot at the school he already knew he wanted to play for. Watching video on both, I'm pretty convinced DC was who the staff liked more but knew wouldn't commit on offer like Speight (may have even said he would). The one thing we know is that this staff throws out X amount of offers at a position and tells all they're taking Y amount. We also know it is absolute. Meaning that if a less talented kid takes that offer the staff does not BS or stall to wait for a kid they may like more. Here, an offer is an offer. IMO, Cornwell is the better QB and the staff knows this. Yet, they like Speight and are big fans of getting spots locked up. So, unless the kid backs out, they can focus on the next with only the very elite of all positions having a "whenever you want to join" offer. This may not lead to ultra mega-man recruiting classes but it does lead to very good ones at a consistent rate with kids who truly want to be at Michigan. Attrition can kill a program, as we have all seen. This system leads to less of it despite it always being a certainty unlike the system of the last regime that was full of "offers not really an offer unless this kid we like more chooses someone else". Nobody wants to be seen as 2nd fiddle. In short (lol): Cornwell was who we wanted but Speight was considered good enough to play here and wasn't going to pussyfoot around. That mentality leads to more cohesive and still talented classes, IMO.
Given the early commit, bad mechanics and less than great competition I'd assume he ends up in the top 20 range. Kid's film looked ok when glossed over but turn the music off and simply watch him play and you see major concerns. He pushes the ball but does have good accuracy as far as hitting open WRs (think of how many gimme TDs we've lost the last 6+ years due to overthrows). Yet, many of those completions in his video are INTs at the college level. Period. I love UM but I'm not a homer and, as I said before, I think the QB offers went out and he jumped first despite the others being better. That said, should still be a good QB and shouldn't see service until his RS So-Jr year anyway. Plenty of time to work on mechanics and build arm strength. In fact, a kid his size should always have a great arm by sheer mechanical force so it is mostly his "shot" like motion that removes drive on the ball.
Can someone explain where he's at in terms of rankings? I am somewhat new to recruiting and am not sure what to make of a guy when rankings haven't yet come out. Where do we think this guys falls? Based on what I saw on film of him he looks big and accurate, but I don't like his throwing motion at all. He short-arms everything. I guess I am surprised that our coaches went to watch him throw and were impressed and offered so early. From my understanding programs don't typically get high level QB recruits every year becaues of the expectation of the previous guy (Morris) to play multiple years. So, is it safe to assume this guy won't ever be our planned #1 guy and we will get a higher ranked guy in the 2015 class or are we actually high on this guy and I'm all wrong?
Strength equipment is expensive and guarantees you nothing. A strong will is free and can give you everything you want.
Anyone who has lingering doubts about this commitment and who might have been hoping for a different QB offer/commitment, I recommend listening to WTKA's interview with this kid (available on WTKA's website). It is really incredible. I came away a real believer in this kid.
The kid is smart, confident, articulate, and understands the position and opportunity he has. He'll step on campus being a year older, enrolling early, and having trained with one of the world's very best QB coaches. That will lower his floor for sure and will increase the likelihood that he reaches his ceiling. He is a leader. This interview impressed me more than any other high school recruit interview I've heard. I'm excited about this kid.
Streaming UM games early Sunday morning from Korea, since 2007
Arm strength is such an overrated factor when it comes to evaluating a prospect. Accuracy is so important in the pro style offense and accuracy under pressure is one of the most important factors. I trust the coaches, they haven't given us a reason not to. That being said GO BLUE!!