Hello: Wilton Speight

Submitted by Ace on February 7th, 2013 at 11:55 AM

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.


Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
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.


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.


Junior highlights:

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.


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.


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.



February 7th, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

If Gardner gets a medical redshirt I don't think we need to take another QB in the 2014 class.  Four scholarship QBs on the roster is enough IMO. 


February 7th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

Bellomy is going to leave because you want him to leave the team, or are you just providing an idea with some relevant backing evidence?

Do you also want other players to leave the team because they played poorly in the bowl game?


February 7th, 2013 at 12:08 PM ^

As was discussed yesterday, I can't help but wonder if he was Michigan's No. 1 choice because he was willing to commit right away, which, if true, is intriguing.  I fall into the camp that has a hard time seeing Speight as being better than Cornwell, though I realize that my camp is very easy to criticize, and I claim no more football expertise than any other lemur who has learned to type characters on a keyboard in a lab. 

Also, great job, Ace.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

Is anyone else struck by how much better Dawkins looked than Wilton? Not a good sign if you ask me, that hitch is brutal.

If this were a grenade throwing contest, he is definitely my guy. Quarterback at Michigan? Not so sure.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:16 PM ^

Question: How can you re-classify at the HS level?

Googles says Collegiate is a private K-12 school, which I would assume would mean he essentially held himself back and completed another year of HS even though presumably he had the grades to move on.  I mean they dont give out medical hardships at the HS level correct? 

Other kids, such as McGary have went the opposite route, graduated HS, and spent a development year at a Miltary school/academy etc.  This has seemed to occur when a kid was hurt his senior year and didnt get a high profile and/or wanted to get bigger stronger before moving on.  I would think that this is what you would have to do in order to re-classify instead of just saying..aw shucks I got hurt and lost a season so I'm going to not move forward with my class.

Cavet: You do have cases such as Austin Hatch where they reclassify due to extreme hardships but breaking a bone isnt a extreme hardship.



February 7th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

You have to apply for a waiver from the state's governing athletic organization (the MHSAA in Michigan).  I have seen kids re-classify before and just take a smaller load of courses their senior year, which is possible, at least in some high schools.  We had a kid re-classify to a year later due to some strange things going on with his living situation, but it's not a common event.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:17 PM ^

He seems to throw pretty tight spirals and his accuracy looks pretty impressive although they don't show interceptions on highlight videos. Alot of his throws have arcs to them but they drop in the receivers hands. I can't judge his arm strength very well but some of his throws went about 40-50 yards. That's probably deep enough in most cases. Compared to Morris he doesn't have a rocket arm but not many will.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

with his arm strength is more with what you said at first: he throws a lot of loopy stuff that college-level DBs will be able to eat up.


That said, towards the end of his film there were a few 10-15 yard throws on a rope that made me feel much better about the arm strength. I think once he learns to throw off his front foot he could be excellent.


Also, he's definitely not a DG in terms of speed (no need to even think of comparing him to Denard) but he's just as definitely not a John Navarre either. He looked fairly agile for his size back there on some of the plays.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

The arm strength he displays in his highlight videos is less than impressive, but if you watch his feet and hips when he throws the ball, he's not putting anything behind it. If the staff can teach this kid to use his feet properly, he could end up having a very strong arm.

Ron Utah

February 7th, 2013 at 2:55 PM ^

Getting bigger doesn't make you a SDE.  Taco's quickness and pass rush ability will keep him at WDE, IMO.

There's nothing that says you can't be big and play WDE.  It's just rare to find big, quicky players.  Taco is both, and his weight is deceiving because he's so tall.

I would be surprised if he moved to SDE at any point in his career.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

As for the rest of the class, 2014 could end up being even better than 2013. We should be okay at WR if we reel in McCaffrey, or Scott, or Harris, or Lattimore. We'll be okay at SDE with McDowell, and if Hand doesn't pan out the coaches will have someone lined up. Our defensive secondary looks like it could be elite next year, with the kids we lead for, but as always it looks like it'll be tough for a position group to challenge our offensive line prospects as our best group.

so bored at work

February 7th, 2013 at 12:59 PM ^

I'm too lazy to find anything to back this up, but a few years ago there was a story about Tom Brady working to improve his arm strength.  The gist of it was, there are exercises/drills you can do to add a little zip to your fastball, though I seem to recall that it was a fairly intensive training process.


February 7th, 2013 at 1:09 PM ^

The only thing that really strengthens your arm is tightening up your mechanics.  You can lift all the weights you want, but having a strong arm is more about the movement of your entire body than a couple muscles in your shoulder area.

That's why you see guys like Tim Lincecum and Billy Wagner throwing so hard in the major leagues, despite being fairly small.


February 7th, 2013 at 3:16 PM ^

While I agree there is more to velocity than just the arm there are many ways to increase the velocity of your ball or as you put it strengthen your arm.  Adding hip mobility partucilarly adductor length will help, improving joint balance and proper posture will (you may say that's mechanics but it takes muscular corrective exercise and stretching to obtain), adding internal hip rotation to the front side helps to allow force to be applied over a longer distance on the stride, but this can vary depending on how long the stride is (it probably helps a pitcher more but will still help a QB), glute activation is important in order to produce power and rate of force production from the back leg, adding soft tissue work to increase mobility can help, building power, particularly rotational power and lateral power (which isn't always translated from power in the saggital plane like a vertical jump), but learning to produce power from the ground up in the saggital plane from things like Olympic lifts can help too, adding overall size to the athlete, building rotary stability and particlarly anti-rotation stability helps, adding thoracic mobility helps by allowing a seperation of the upper body from the lower with allows you to produce more power as you seperate and translate it to your foward movement in the throw, long toss can assist in adding arm velocity.  I could go on and on but there are tons of ways to add arm strength and/or throwing velocity outside of mechanics or things you can do that will improve your mechanics...depending on how you look at it. 


February 7th, 2013 at 12:37 PM ^

It will be interesting to see if he hits the camp circuit like Shane did. He certainly has a lot to gain in the rankings and it's never bad to get more time throwing the ball, but I've read he has a personal QB coach of some sort so maybe it wouldn't be as helpful for him.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:38 PM ^

but some writer mentioned that the Morris and Speight are polar opposites with high ceilings. They put it best. In Morris, the coaches see a guy with a cannon arm that they can refine into a better decision maker. In Speight, they see a precise passer that they can strenthen and refine from a technical standpoint. I know that's a rather simplistic way to put it but it seems fitting.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:41 PM ^

see this guy as one of the top three in the country. He may have a rocket lazer arm but that can be improved through weight training and proper mechanics. That accuracy though, i don't know how much touch like that can be taught. I'm happy that he'll get the chance to sit (hopefully) for some time until his arm can be further developed. 



February 7th, 2013 at 12:48 PM ^

though admittedly the first-- Joe Flacco-- has to do with just haveing seen his scrambling ability in the Superbowl. But he kinda moves like him. The other  one is Christain Ponder. Ponder has a cleaner release, but the ball comes out of his hand roughly about the same, and usually arives at the best time. Ponder also isn't known for having a laser-rocket arm. 


February 7th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

He may not have the strength of Shane but his accuracy is pretty darn good.  Maybe one or two of his highlights had wide open receivers, the rest were dropped right where they ought to be with defenders real close to the receivers.  Being that tall gives him great field vision, as well.

And de - "Speight" being that tall he moves fairly well.  

Ali G Bomaye

February 7th, 2013 at 12:53 PM ^

I'm excited that we were able to sign a QB who seems like he might end up as a high-3* to low-4* one year after we signed a guy who might be the best pocket passer in the country.  A lot of QBs would be scared off by the likelihood that they won't see any significant playing time for the next 3-4 years, but as we discovered this year, it's important to have a good backup QB.


February 7th, 2013 at 12:56 PM ^

  The Michigan faithful are all looking forward to seeing you help crush STAEE and Ohio.  


  Welcome to Michigan!  Your next job is to convince some top-flight WRs to join you. :)


February 7th, 2013 at 1:03 PM ^

I think accuracy, timing, footwork and intelligence are more important than arm strenght when running the west coast offense.  Maybe thats what the coaches were thinking. 


February 7th, 2013 at 1:03 PM ^

I assume that if Michigan's happy with him as the only QB in the class they think he's better than a 3 star.  I'd be curious to see where he stands as more rankings come out.