Is John Navarre still Michigan”s starting quarterback?

Paul Wong
Stranger in the corner<br><br>Babawole Akin Aina

If Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is planning to start Navarre next season, he did nothing to indicate it at yesterday”s press conference. He gave no clear endorsement Navarre, who has started 16 games for the Wolverines.

When asked to evaluate his quarterbacks heading into spring practice, Carr vaguely replied, “They”ll all be there.”

This fall, “all” will consist of Navarre, sophomore Jermaine Gonzales, junior Spencer Brinton and incoming freshman Matt Gutierrez.

Navarre had a turbulent sophomore season as the premier signal caller. After leading the Wolverines to a 6-1 record and No. 4 ranking in the Bowl Championship Series by throwing 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions, his season took a turn for the worse. In his last five games, he threw seven touchdowns and nine interceptions, as the Wolverines stumbled to a 2-3 record in those contests.

Brinton, who spent two years away from football on a Mormon mission before joining the Wolverines last season, had less than four months to get back into shape for football. He was unable to gain ground on Navarre and Gonzales as the season progressed.

“Because of all the things we threw at him, and because we had such a short time span with him, I thought he hit a plateau,” Carr said.

But the transfer-student from San Diego State continued to work on his fundamentals. During the preparation for the Florida Citrus Bowl, Brinton got a chance to take more snaps and give the coaches a glimpse of what he could do.

“I thought he made very good progress,” Carr said. “Coming out of (bowl practices) his confidence was better. I think he”s going to compete very well (in the spring).”

Carr will be looking closely at spring practices as a chance for his three quarterbacks to improve their strength, speed and take as many snaps as possible.

“As a coach, you want to give them as many repetitions as you can,” Carr said. “I always tell them to not worry about what the other guy is doing.”

Hail to the victor: Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady also knows a few things about being a quarterback at Michigan.

Tuesday night, Brady spoke with Carr for 40 minutes from New England Patriots” owner Bob Kraft”s private jet on his way to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

“I told him last night, “Nobody deserves that type of success more than you do,” ” Carr said. “What a kid, what a story you look at him for three straight weeks, where every game he was a question, and what he did for his team was exactly what they asked him to do.”

Carr reminisced that early into Brady”s Michigan career he was struggling and actually considered transferring. But those thoughts lasted just one day.

“He came back the next day and said, “Coach I love it here at Michigan. I”m going to stay here. I”m going to prove to you what kind of quarterback I can be.” ”

Bye, bye bobby: Michigan”s special teams and recruiting took a big hit yesterday when coach Bobby Morrison announced his retirement after 31 years of coaching. The 56-year-old”s ongoing fight with bladder cancer was too much for him to handle.

“What I”ve been going through is not fun,” Morrison said. “I just thought it was time. I”m falling apart.”

Said Carr: “He”s a man”s man, a coach”s coach, a player”s coach and he”s done a tremendous job. We”re extremely proud of his loyalty and work ethic.”

Morrison has been the team”s recruiting coordinator for the past eight years and has nabbed top-10 classes in seven of those years. His special

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