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.
|NR QB||NR QB||NR QB||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.
Evaluations are scarce at this point. Of course, the most important evaluation in this case is the one made by the coaches, and Speight passed his with flying colors last week:
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.
247's Clint Brewster posted some impressions from Speight's film in the wake of his commitment ($):
Speight is a quarterback that can make all throws and also keep plays alive by dodging and breaking tackles in the pocket. Speight has a compact release, allowing him to make throws on time. Footwork is strength for Speight, as he shows proper steps on his throws inside the pocket and also has great mechanics when throwing on the move.
Being nit picky here, Speight can improve his throwing motion by following through on his throws and using his hips and legs to step into his passes better. Speight tends to throw off his back leg quite often, but gets away with it because of his arm strength at the high school level but could be a concern in college.
I largely agree with Brewster's assessment, though he fails to mention the hitch in Speight's delivery that will be apparent on film, and his arm strength isn't at a blue-chip level.
An important note: Speight was originally a 2013 recruit, but reclassified to 2014 after breaking his collarbone in the first game of his (first) junior season, per Scout's Kristin Kenney ($).
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.
You can also see Speight make some throws in a camp setting at the beginning of this video.
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.