ORLANDO, Fla. — When Shane Morris committed to play football at Michigan on May 10, 2011, he was just a sophomore in high school — “a little kid,” as he said. He was committing to play at and graduate from his dream school.
Almost five years later, after losing quarterback competitions to two different teammates, Morris said Wednesday he still has the same mindset. And, despite all of the rumors about him transferring, he plans to return, compete for the starting job again in 2016 and graduate the following spring.
He has not played a down this season — not at the end of early-season blowout wins, not in the second half at Minnesota after starter Jake Rudock left with an injury — in a redshirt year.
As a former four-star recruit, Morris was the presumed starter when Devin Gardner left after starting in 2013 and 2014. Then, first-year coach Jim Harbaugh brought in Rudock as a graduate transfer, and Rudock won the job in fall camp.
That humbled Morris — but, as the junior was quick to note, not for the first time.
“I didn’t win the competition my freshman year or my sophomore year, so it’s kind of the same thing,” Morris said.
Morris does feel like he was more prepared this year than in the previous two, and he does think he has improved over the past four months. He has worked with the strength staff to add muscle and get up to 217 pounds.
Most importantly, Harbaugh wants his players to constantly compete ruthlessly — something Morris believes he’s done as well.
“I did the best I could,” Morris said. “I had a good camp, but Jake had a better one. He’s had a great season. He’s played really well through all the games.”
Rudock will make his 38th career start on Friday in the Citrus Bowl against Florida, with Morris on the sideline again. Still, Morris had nothing but positive thoughts about Rudock.
“I’m really proud of him,” Morris said. “He’s played great, and he’s earned it. He studies his ass off. He works really hard. He deserves everything he’s got this year. If he keeps it up, has a good game here, he could potentially get picked up by an NFL team and have a good career.”
At Minnesota, Morris was passed up again. Redshirt freshman quarterback Wilton Speight took over for the injured Rudock and went 3-for-6 with 29 yards and the game-winning touchdown pass.
Morris admitted he again realized that could have been him.
“Oh, yeah. You’re thinking that the whole season,” he said. “I could have been the starter. That could have been me.”
Still, Morris said he appreciated the year to improve, saving the year of eligibility rather than playing spot duty as a backup. He will join another crowded quarterback competition next season, battling Speight, Houston transfer John O’Korn and incoming freshman Brandon Peters.
Morris could lose the job again, but make no mistake: He’s not planning on going anywhere.
“People think I’m going to leave. I’m not,” he said. “This is my dream, my dream school. It’s my dream to graduate from Michigan and play here. It’s going to be good.”