Wilton Speight won’t play his final season of college football at Michigan.
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Speight opened the last two seasons as Michigan’s starting quarterback, but announced Sunday that he will transfer. Speight is a redshirt junior this season, so he will be a fifth-year senior in 2018 wherever he lands. As a graduate transfer, he will be immediately eligible.
“Thank you, Michigan. These past 4 years have been nothing short of spectacular. Enrolling in January of 2014 as a kid from Virginia I didn’t know what to expect. Four years later I leave a Michigan Man,” Speight wrote in an Instagram post. “The amazing memories with my teammates, playing under the best coaches in America, and enjoying everything that this wonderful university and town have to offer. What a ride.
“To the fans that stuck with us through thick and thin — thank you. To Coach Hoke for giving a kid with no offers a chance — thank you. To Coach Harbaugh for coming in and making me a better man and a better quarterback. For understanding this decision of mine and always having my back no matter what— thank you.
“I don’t know where next will be, and I’ll use these next four weeks to figure that out. I’m excited to keep pursuing my dreams in a new jersey, but will forever root for the boys wearing the winged helmet. Go blue!”
After redshirting in 2014 and serving as a backup in 2015, Speight became the team’s starting quarterback in 2016. That season, Speight started 12 games and threw for 2,538 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 61.6 percent of his passes.
The Wolverines opened won nine straight to open the 2016 season. In those games, Speight threw for 2,053 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 64.5 percent of his passes, but he struggled mightily down the stretch.
In November, Michigan lost its first game, 14-13, to an average Iowa team. Speight played miserably, completing 11-of-26 passes for 103 yards and an interception. To make matters worse, he broke his collarbone and had to sit out against Indiana (a 20-10 win) and heal quickly for the big game against Ohio State. The status of Speight was unknown entering the game, but played while clearly not 100 percent. In the double-overtime loss, he threw two costly interceptions. Another lackluster performance followed in an Orange Bowl loss to Florida State, and doubt about Speight’s abilities intensified.
Speight beat out senior John O’Korn and redshirt freshman Brandon Peters to start to begin 2017. The Wolverines lost most of their offensive production from 2016 and Speight struggled in the early going. He started the team’s first four games but suffered a serious back injury against Purdue on Sept. 23. He hasn’t played since. For the season, Speight threw for 581 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 54.3 percent of his passes.
With Speight sidelined, O’Korn moved into the starting lineup, only to be replaced by Peters during the first half against Rutgers on Oct. 28. From there, Peters became the starter until he suffered a concussion at Wisconsin on Nov. 18. With Peters out and Speight not cleared for contact, O’Korn started on Saturday against Ohio State and struggled in a 31-20 loss.
The Wolverines are 8-4 heading into a bowl game. Whether Speight sticks around for the postseason isn’t immediately clear. However, with Peters returning with important experience under his belt in 2018, Speight saw the writing on the wall and is opting to pursue other opportunities.
Michigan also has Dylan McCaffrey, a four-star recruit in the 2017 class, on the roster. McCaffrey is the younger brother of former Stanford star running back Christian McCaffrey, the Heisman runner-up in 2015. Additionally, the Wolverines have a verbal commitment from Joe Milton, a four-star quarterback in the 2018 class.
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