Friday, August 15, 2008

Nick Sheridan: Michigan's Probable Starter?

Former walk-on Nick Sheridan throws a pass in fall practice ( photo)

Jim Carty's Ann Arbor News article from Tuesday brought forth a surprising revelation about Michigan's quarterback situation: there's a clear leader. However, it's not who everyone thought it would be:

Former walk-on Nick Sheridan and Georgia Tech transfer Steven Threet remained very close, he said, adding that both would play if the season started today (then semi-grumbling that he didn't really like the hypothetical).

Come practice time, though, it didn't look all that close.

Sheridan played with efficiency and a swagger, smoothly running through his drills, delivering almost all his short- and medium-range passes with accuracy and zip.

Threet wasn't bad, he just wasn't good, and certainly didn't seem as steady as Sheridan. In one red zone passing drill, his pass drilled into the ground just in front of a receiver cutting back to the middle of the field.

"I pray to God you never throw the ball like that in a game," offensive line coach Greg Frey snapped.

"If you're in the game," offensive coordinator Calvin McGee added.

Um, wow. Michigan had great success with its last walk-on starter at quarterback (some kid named Greise, if I remember correctly), but is Sheridan really the man for the job?

Actually, I'm not as frightened as I thought I would be at the possibility of Sheridan (who just picked up a scholarship last week) taking the field with the starters for the Utah game. Steven Threet is certainly the more talented quarterback, but he limits what Michigan can do on the field significantly because of his complete lack of mobility. While Sheridan is no Pat White, he is enough of a threat running that defenses will have to respect his ability to tuck the ball and run for a first down.

Sheridan is the ultimate sleeper at quarterback. He barely played at Saline High School, stuck behind another quarterback before getting hurt and missing all but two games his senior season. With no Division I offers, Sheridan walked on to Michigan, where his father Bill coached linebackers and defensive line from 2002-2004.

Believe it or not, Sheridan's complete lack of experience and recruiting hype is exactly what gives me confidence that he is the right fit for Michigan's offense. Who knows how talented Sheridan really is, except the coaches who have worked closely with him, since there has been so little actual game experience (in high school and college) to go on? Sheridan has had to earn his spot on the team every season he's been here, and for an unrecruited walk-on to be pushing a former four-star prospect for playing time means he's clearly been the better quarterback in practice.

A year ago, nobody would have thought that a walk-on would ever have a shot at Michigan's quarterback spot. Ryan Mallett was supposed to have the position locked down for the next three years, on his way to becoming a Heisman candidate and top-10 draft pick. Even when Rich Rodriguez was hired, and Mallett transferred, few saw this as a possibility.

As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, things done changed. Let's hope this change works better for Michigan than things did for Biggie.

No comments: