He never lost in high school, but he never got a start in college. On Sunday, months of speculation ended when redshirt junior quarterback Matt Gutierrez announced that he would be transferring to Division I-AA Idaho State next season.
According to the Ann Arbor News, Gutierrez planned to leave for Pocatello, Idaho, yesterday with his father, Paul. Although he is happy to have a chance to start on the football field, Gutierrez was not happy to leave Ann Arbor.
“I’m definitely not excited about leaving all my friends and all the great people I’ve met here,” Gutierrez told the Ann Arbor News. “But I’m excited about the new opportunity. I love to play football. I’m looking forward to being able to work toward that and succeed in that way.”
After playing at national powerhouse De La Salle in Concord, Calif., Gutierrez came to Michigan following in the footsteps of fellow California native and former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady. Yet circumstance and injury prevented Gutierrez from having as much success on the field as Brady did.
Gutierrez redshirted his first year at Michigan and spent the next two as the primary backup for the much-embattled John Navarre. He put in three years of hard work learning the Michigan offense, and it looked like his determination would be rewarded. Coach Lloyd Carr named Gutierrez the starter the week of the season opener in 2004, but Gutierrez sustained a shoulder injury that prevented him from making the start. Then-freshman Chad Henne got the starting nod and went on to have a record-setting first year. Gutierrez, on the other hand, had surgery to repair a torn labrum and only saw the field as the Wolverines’ holder on field goals and extra points.
Coming into the 2005 season, Gutierrez worked in an attempt to earn the top spot on the depth chart, but he only saw action in blow-out wins, completing 14 of 22 passes.
“I feel like in my four years (at Michigan), I’ve done everything I could have done and was asked to do to earn an opportunity,'” Gutierrez told the Ann Arbor News. “Unfortunately, the opportunity didn’t come when I was finally healthy and ready to play.”
With just one year of eligibility remaining, Gutierrez thought the time had come to give himself one more chance at starting. But in his interview with the Ann Arbor News, Gutierrez did not indicate whether he had been promised the starting job for the Bengals.
With Gutierrez transferring, Michigan’s quarterback situation looks somewhat dicey heading into the 2006 season. Henne is still entrenched as the starter, but the backup position is up in the air. Freshman Jason Forcier redshirted, but he is largely an unknown. The Wolverines are expected to sign Georgia native David Cone in February, but the 6-foot-6 signal caller is not among the nation’s top prospects at his position.