Wilton Speight and John O’Korn are the two leading candidates to be Michigan’s starting quarterback when the 2017 season opens against Florida. That’s the message that is being delivered by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh as the Wolverines continue with preseason practices in Ann Arbor.
“It’s not to say anything is set in stone right now, but I think that the two guys have created a little bit of separation,” Harbaugh said Friday following practice, according to Dan Murphy of ESPN.
Speight was Michigan’s starter for the 2016 season and entered the spring as the most likely starter for the offense going into the fall. O’Korn, who transferred from Houston started one game in place of an injured Speight last season, was expected to push for the starting job. Harbaugh has kept the competition wide open from the start of practices, but Harbaugh’s latest comments suggest redshirt freshman Brandon Peters is no longer in the running for the starting job and will be designated in a backup role for the upcoming season.
With such a big game to open the new season, Harbaugh may choose to hold off on naming a starter for as long as possible. Such a move would be a typical coaching move seen around college football in an attempt to not give the opponent any advantages. It’s a tad silly, but makes sense from a gamesmanship point of view as well. There is no timeline for when Harbaugh is expected to name a starter, so until then it is still a bit of a guessing game.
Michigan kicks off the 2017 season in Arlington, Texas against the Florida Gators. The Wolverines are coming off a 10-3 season that ended on a bit of a sour note. Harbaugh has also said he hopes the way last season ended drives the Wolverines to take the next step this season despite a good amount of roster turnover in the starting lineup.
Thanks to Tom Herman, Gus Malzahn now has a key hole to fill on his coaching staff on The Plains.
First reported by Brett McMurphy, Herb Hand has decided to leave as the offensive line coach at Auburn and take the same job at Texas. Additionally, Hand will reportedly carry the title of co-offensive coordinator with the Longhorns.
247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the original report.
Hand spent the past two seasons as the line coach at Auburn. Prior to that, Hand spent two years with Penn State (2014-15) and four at Vanderbilt (2010-13).
Rutgers officially has its ninth offensive coordinator in as many years.
Late last week, reports surfaced that Chris Ash was set to hire John McNulty as its new coordinator. Monday afternoon, the Scarlet Knights confirmed the hiring of McNulty as the replacement for Jerry Kill, who stepped down after one season last month due to ongoing health concerns.
McNulty is a very familiar name in Piscataway as he served as the Scarlet Knights’ coordinator and assistant coach under Greg Schiano from 2004-08.
“I’m excited to welcome John back to the Rutgers football family,” a statement from the head coach began. “He has a wealth of football knowledge and experience, and I look forward to him helping develop our quarterbacks. John is a great leader, man and coach, and I’m excited to see him shape the identity of our offense.”
The past two seasons, McNulty served as the tight ends coach for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers. In fact, he had spent his entire time as an assistant coach since leaving RU at the NFL level, including stops with the Arizona Cardinals (2009-12), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013) and Tennessee Titans (2014-15). He also spent six seasons in the NFL prior to his RU stint — Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-2002) and Dallas Cowboys (2003).
McNulty, who played his college football at Penn State, began his collegiate coaching career at Michigan (1991-94) before moving on to UConn for three seasons as wide receivers coach.
It was a day of attrition on multiple fronts for the Purdue football program.
Monday, Brian Lankford-Johnson announced via Twitter that he has decided to transfer from the Boilermakers. While no specific reason was given for the running back’s decision to move on, it’s believed a desire for a better shot at playing time played a significant role.
Last season, the sophomore ran for 86 yards on 22 carries.
In addition to Lankford-Johnson, defensive tackle Eddy Wilson announced that he has decided to enter the NFL draft. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star Monday, Wilson acknowledged that he had let his academics slip a bit and that was the reason behind his decision to declare early.
“It had to do with academics,” the lineman told the Star. “It was a credit hour issue; I didn’t pass enough credit hours. I wasn’t paying attention and I didn’t take it as seriously as I should’ve been taking it.”
The past two seasons, Wilson started nine games for the Boilermakers. Just one of those starts came during the 2017 season.
As has become customary, Bill Snyder has added familiar faces to his Kansas State staff.
K-State announced late Tuesday morning that Snyder has hired former Wildcats football players Zach Hanson and Eric Hickson. The former will serve as tight ends coach as well as help with the offensive line, while the latter will coach running backs.
In its release, the football program noted that K-State now has seven full-time coaches who played for the Wildcats, the most former players coaching at their alma mater among all FBS staffs.
“I am pleased to have Zach and Eric back with us,” Snyder said in a statement. “Both have proven their capabilities not only as very successful position coaches and teachers, but also in the development of quality and valued young men. They both have a genuine interest in the life skills enhancement of those they work with. Having also been highly successful student-athletes in our program, they believe in and understand our program.”
Hickson spent the past three seasons as the running backs coach at Akron. That was Hickson’s first coaching job at the FBS level.
A running back at K-State, he left the program in 1998 as the school’s all-time leading rusher; he now stands fifth on that list.
After Hanson finished up his playing career at K-State in 2011, he spent four years at his alma mater (2012-15) as a graduate assistant and quality control coach. The past two seasons, he was a graduate assistant working with special teams and tight ends at North Carolina.
This will also be Hanson’s first full-time job at the FBS level.