The Five Best Quarterbacks Under Jim Harbaugh

Brandon Brown

Michigan isn't exactly Quarterback U, but having Tom Brady as an alum certainly carries some weight and Jim Harbaugh wasn't too bad in a winged helmet either. Most people thought superstar quarterbacks would be lining up to play for Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, but that hasn't exactly happened.

As Harbaugh prepares for his sixth season as Michigan's head coach, we're taking a look at the five best quarterbacks during his five-year tenure.

1. Shea Patterson

shea patterson

I went back and forth a bit on whether or not Patterson or Rudock should take the top spot, and while Rudock's numbers would be on par if you extrapolate them out for two seasons, he only played one. If you doubled Rudock's numbers, he would have more yards and a better completion percentage than Patterson, but less touchdowns and more interceptions. Patterson is the guy.

In two years as a starter, Patterson went 424-of-706 (60.1%) for 5,661 yards with 45 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Michigan fans seem to think that Patterson left a lot on the field, but his numbers don't lie and they're pretty damn good. After just those two seasons, Patterson finished his career ranked No. 1 in passing yards per game (217.7), No. 7 in passing yards and No. 6 in touchdown passes.

2. Jake Rudock

jake rudock

Rudock got Jim Harbaugh's tenure rolling back in 2015 and he stepped in admirably after being cast off by Iowa. The graduate transfer finished his one season as a Michigan starter with 3,017 yards on 249-of-389 (64.0%) passing. He threw a pretty modest 20 touchdown passes that year against nine interceptions but was a true gamer and leader. If you double his numbers to simulate him playing at Michigan for two year like Patterson did, he'd be 498-of-778 (64.0%) for 6,034 yards with 40 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. The percentage and yardage would be better than Patterson, but with less TDs and more picks. Obviously Rudocks could've been better in year two, but he also could've been worse. Shea did what he did for two years, so he gets the top spot. 

He went from being benched at Iowa, to starting at Michigan and ultimately being drafted in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions after his one solid season in Ann Arbor.

3. Wilton Speight

wilton speight

Speight's career numbers are up and down at Michigan mainly because of injuries. He finished his Michigan career 257-of-437 (58.8%) for 3,192 yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The numbers, especially the completion percentage, just aren't that great. Throw in the fact that his second year as a starter was cut short because of a serious back injury and you have a pretty average career.

I was always a pretty big fan of Speight, and he was great with the media, but he wasn't the kind of quarterback to take a team to great heights. He beat the odds in even becoming the starter, which I respect, but third is the right spot for him on this list.

4. Brandon Peters

brandon peters

This is where things get a little tricky. Patterson, Rudock and Speight are the only true starters from Harbaugh's tenure, so it was tough to pick No. 4 and No. 5. Peters has to have the 4-spot because he's played more and because his numbers are actually better than McCaffrey's.

Peters stepped in when Speight got injured but then missed time due to an injury himself and never really put it together after that. He finished his Michigan career 58-of-101 (52.7%) with 680 yards and four touchdowns against three interceptions. 

Obviously those numbers aren't very good, but he was put in a tough position as a backup forced into action. Then he took a massive shot, which resulted in a concussion and ultimately led to him falling short of his potential. 

5. Dylan McCaffrey

dylan mccaffrey

McCaffrey might get a chance to rocket up this list if he's named the starter in 2020, but for now he's at No. 5 on this list.

He's only played a little bit and has very abbreviated numbers because of it. In little more than mop-up duty, McCaffrey has played in 13 games and compiled 242 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-35 (51.4%) passing. Obviously he hasn't had a chance to get into the flow of a game and run an offense, but the passing percentage is lower than anyone else on this list and, amazingly, is lower than John O'Korn's completion rate.

McCaffrey adds the running element to his game and might be a big part of U-M's offense this fall. Of course, Joe Milton is going to have something to say about that.

How do you feel about the order? Should someone else be on the list? Comment below!!!

Comments (4)
No. 1-2
UMfb
UMfb

I went back to watch O'Korn vs. Purdue in 2017. All 270 of his passing yards was perfect. He put the ball in the BEST place for his receivers and TEs. O'Korn had something going, but I don't think he had the mentality to endure in the BigTen. The whole team was excited after that win at Purdue.

Over It
Over It

I'd take Ruddock over Patterson any day...


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