Michigan Football: Why Shane Morris Won't See the Field as a Freshman

Zach Dirlam@Zach_DirlamSenior Analyst IIDecember 4, 2012

Shane Morris is unlikely to see the field in 2013. Photo courtesy of CBSSports.com.
Shane Morris is unlikely to see the field in 2013. Photo courtesy of CBSSports.com.

Prior to the start of the Michigan Wolverines' 2012 campaign, it appeared 5-star prospect Shane Morris (Warren, Mich.) would be able to come to Ann Arbor and compete for the starting quarterback job for the 2013 season, but after the recent emergence of junior signal-caller Devin Gardner, there is no chance the De La Salle High School product even gets on the field as a true freshman.

The same would not have been said a couple of weeks ago before head coach Brady Hoke told reporters the Big Ten is likely going to approve Gardner's application for a medical redshirt, which would give the former 5-star recruit an additional year of eligibility.

"I would expect that would go through," Hoke said. "The documentation and everything is being sent to the Big Ten."

Gardner appeared in two games as a true freshman and sat out the rest of the 2010 season with a back injury, so the Inkster High School product fits the NCAA's requirements to earn the hardship waiver.

Now that Gardner is expected to be Michigan's No. 1 quarterback until 2014, the Wolverines should redshirt Morris next year, which would allow the nation's No. 25 overall prospect to learn the offense and dissect the complex defenses opponents will eventually throw at him without the risk of being thrust into a situation he isn't ready for.

Michigan fans remember how poorly redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Bellomy's trial by fire went against the Nebraska Cornhuskers earlier this season after Denard Robinson left the game with an ulnar nerve injury.

Bellomy failed to complete a single pass in his first 10 attempts and finished the 23-9 loss just 3-of-16 for 38 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

Performances like those have the ability to completely demolish any confidence a quarterback has, which is the last thing Morris would need after a lackluster senior season at the high school level.

Morris has all of the tools required to be an elite college quarterback after he adjusts to the speed of the college game, works with offensive coordinator Al Borges everyday in practice and perfects his deep ball.

During Morris' appearance at the Elite 11 Camp in July, Rivals.com's Mike Farrell wrote:

(Morris) has great size, a cannon of an arm and he has started to show the ability to put more touch on his ball. His long ball didn't sail like it has in the past and no one can sling it where it needs to be faster.

The interesting thing about Morris is that while he's learning to drop the ball into spots rather than zip it all the time and learning to throw across his body more, he becomes more impressive. He's no longer just a kid with a hose for an arm, he's becoming a complete quarterback.

Even if Gardner does not receive an extra year of eligibility, Morris should still redshirt as a freshman and only appear in a game if the Wolverines are in desperation mode as a result of quarterback ineffectiveness or injury.

The 6'3", 183-pounder will take the next year or two to prepare himself to become Michigan's starter in either 2014 or 2015 depending on Gardner's status.

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