BY NATE SANDALS
Daily Sports Editor
Published September 24, 2008
At the NFL Scouting Combine last February, Adrian Arrington offered two reasons why he was entering the draft a year early.
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Arrington, Michigan’s second-leading wide receiver last season, didn’t want to learn the spread offensive scheme under new coach Rich Rodriguez.
Then Arrington bluntly offered his second explanation: “There’s no quarterback there right now.”
If one of the two hadn’t been the case, Arrington said he likely would have returned to Ann Arbor for his final year of eligibility.
With Chad Henne’s graduation and the transfer of highly touted freshman Ryan Mallett to Arkansas, Arrington wasn’t the only person wondering about Michigan’s quarterback situation last spring.
And then super-recruit Terrelle Pryor chose to attend Ohio State in early March, and the starting quarterback position at Michigan, the next spot in a legendary lineage, became a battle among three unknowns who had a whopping one completion between them.
For the past seven months, redshirt freshman Steven Threet, redshirt sophomores Nick Sheridan and David Cone, and even true freshman Justin Feagin, have been put down, doubted and made the punch line of jokes.
But no matter what the media or the public said about them, one was going to be Michigan’s starting quarterback this season.
From the beginning, the odds were stacked against Steven Threet ever playing for Michigan.
Threet came to Michigan’s football camp in June after his junior year at Adrian High School. He went through workouts with Mallett, the five-star prospect from Texarkana, Texas.
Unfortunately for Threet, a four-star recruit in his own right, Mallett was Michigan’s top quarterback target for that year’s recruiting class, and he had already committed.
“That was a great experience for him, and he’ll tell you to this day that he competed with Mallett and was the better of the two quarterbacks,” said Phil Jacobs, Threet’s coach at Adrian.
So with Mallett already in the fold, Michigan asked Threet to wait and see.
But with offers from a number of BCS-conference programs, including Wisconsin, Stanford, Illinois and Georgia Tech, Threet decided not to wait. In early July, he committed to the Yellow Jackets.
“Steve was disappointed, because he wanted to be a Michigan Man all along,” Jacobs said. “He fell in love with the recruiters and the position coaches at Georgia Tech.”
Threet graduated early from Adrian and arrived at Georgia Tech in January 2007. But soon after Threet arrived, both the coaches that recruited him took jobs elsewhere.
Threet seemed to be Georgia Tech’s backup quarterback at the end of spring camp, behind then-junior Taylor Bennett. But in July of that year, Threet announced he would transfer back to the school he rooted for his whole life: Michigan.
He didn’t take the decision to transfer lightly, knowing it meant sitting out a year no matter where he went.
Family played an important role in Threet’s decision. He talked through the pros and cons with his father and his older brother, Jay, who played baseball at Purdue before transferring to Bowling Green for his last two seasons.
When he decided to return to Michigan, Threet called Jacobs with a message: “ ‘Coach, I’m going to go back to Michigan, and I’m going to beat Mallett out for that starting job.’ ”
As it turned out, Mallett was out of the picture before Threet even finished his redshirt year.
Rodriguez was hired on Dec. 18, 2007. Less than a month later, Mallett enrolled in classes at the University of Arkansas.
Mallett officially transferred because he didn’t think he would fit in Rodriguez’s offensive scheme, but there was speculation he wanted to go to school closer to home.
Threet had a strong connection with former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and his quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler, too. But he decided to be patient with the transition.
“I think my experience at Georgia Tech kind of helped me with that as well, kind of wait it out, not be irrational about anything,” Threet said. “Let the system work. The coaches made it pretty obvious that you don’t have to be the fastest guy on the team to play quarterback in this offense.”
With Mallett gone, Threet’s path to the starting spot was certainly clearer. Threet had even played in a similar offensive scheme under Jacobs at Adrian.