Jim Harbaugh signed his first class at Michigan on Wednesday, landing 14 prospects for the No. 49 haul in the nation, per Rivals.com. Yet one of his biggest gets may have come on Thursday. Former Houston quarterback John O’Korn announced via Twitter he is joining the Wolverines. O’Korn will have to sit the ‘15 season due to NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
O’Korn won’t have much of an impact on Harbaugh’s first campaign with Michigan. But he could be an important building block for the future, as much is expected of the new coach's tenure in Ann Arbor.
A three-star recruit from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., O’Korn quickly developed into one of the American Athletic Conference’s premier quarterbacks upon his arrival on campus before the 2013 season. O’Korn started 11 games and set Houston freshman records for touchdown passes (28) and completions (259) while also throwing for 3,117 yards. He earned the league’s Rookie of the Year honors.
But O’Korn suffered a sophomore slump in 2014. He lost the starting job after the first five games and threw for just 951 yards with six scores on the year. Last month reports indicated O’Korn would seek a transfer from Houston, which hired former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman as its new head coach on Dec. 19.
Barring any changes, Michigan should have a packed stable of quarterbacks in 2016. On National Signing Day the Wolverines inked two four-star passers in Zach Gentry and Alex Malzone. The program also has rising junior Shane Morris, who is expected to start in ’15, and rising sophomore Wilton Speight.
It’s far too early to accurately assess O’Korn’s impact on the 2016 quarterback battle. At the same time, his arrival has to be good news for Michigan fans. Poor quarterback play was major theme of the failed Brady Hoke era, which was defined by the inconsistency of Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner. O’Korn has the talent to immediately impact any offense, especially if Harbaugh can lure more depth to the program with his first full recruiting cycle next year.
Of course, no one knows how Michigan’s quarterback race will evolve by then. Can Morris develop into a reliable passer? Will Gentry or Malzone show promise? A lot will unfold before O’Korn is able to take a meaningful snap in 2016. But offensive improvement is surely a point of emphasis for Harbaugh. The O’Korn transfer is a nice step forward for the coach and for the team’s future.