ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Brandon Peters is a redshirt freshman who is one snap away from becoming Michigan’s starting quarterback.
John O’Korn is a fifth-year senior who is the starting quarterback, set to make his second start of the season on Saturday at noon ET when the Wolverines play at Indiana. O’Korn took over as the Wolverines’ No. 1 quarterback after Wilton Speight suffered three cracked vertebrae Sept. 23 at Purdue. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh announced Monday that Speight is out indefinitely.
That means Peters is O’Korn’s backup. If O’Korn struggles or is injured Saturday, Peters is expected to play — unless Michigan decides to burn Dylan McCaffrey’s redshirt.
Here’s what you need to know about Peters.
Who is Brandon Peters?
Peters is a 19-year-old from Avon, Ind., a 4-star prospect in Michigan’s 2016 recruiting class. He was the only quarterback in Harbaugh’s first full recruiting class.
Peters threw for 2,803 yards with 35 touchdowns and 5 interceptions as he led Avon High School to the Indiana state semifinals. In 2015, Peters was named Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year and the state’s Mr. Football, and was a finalist for the U.S. Army National Player of the Year. ESPN rated Peters as the No. 5 quarterback in the Class of 2016 and the No. 60 overall player in the 2016 ESPN 300.
One thing that drew Peters to Michigan was seeing Harbaugh’s work in 2015 with quarterback Jake Rudock.
“You saw it this year with Jake and how much he developed throughout the year,” Peters said in February 2016. “He’s had the experience in the NFL.”
What kind of quarterback is Peters?
Listed at 6 feet, 5 inches and 220 pounds on Michigan’s roster, Peters was recruited as a pro-style quarterback, which means he’s more of a pocket passer who thrives in an offense that balances the run and pass.
Peters told Bleacher Report in April of 2015 that Harbaugh compared him to Andrew Luck, whom Harbaugh coached in 2009 and ’10 at Stanford.
“It’s a similar situation to what he had at Stanford, with Luck being the first quarterback recruit he brought in [with a full recruiting cycle],” Peters said. “He thinks I’m a really good fit for him at Michigan like Luck was for him there.”
Peters eager to make plays at Michigan
Peters, part of the No. 8 recruiting class in the nation in 2016 as ranked by 247Sports and one of six early enrollees, began his education at Michigan in January 2016.
He took one class and he devoted himself to learning the Wolverines’ playbook. Peters also worked with a theatrical voice instructor, at the urging of former Wolverines passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch, to assist in amplifying his voice when he called signals.
Peters’ most difficult adjustment to Michigan, he said, was having to watch from the sidelines instead of competing on the field.
“I’m rooting for us to win, and whoever’s the quarterback, I’m wishing them the best,” Peters told the Indianapolis Star in 2016, “but it’s also very hard to sit there and watch when you’re used to being the guy out there making the plays.”
Peters showed promise in spring game
In his only public on-field appearance prior to the 2017 regular season, Peters showed accuracy, a strong presence in the pocket and sound mechanics in Michigan’s spring game. Quarterbacking the Maize team, Peters finished 9 for 17 for 160 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
“The strongest part was that I was on point with my reads,” Peters said. “My reads were pretty good all day, except for that interception.”
He also found where he could improve to prepare for the fall.
“Urgency in the huddle,” Peters said. “Getting to the line fast. That’s probably the biggest thing I need to work on. And being louder at the line of scrimmage. Coaches have been preaching to me to get better at that.”
Peters did more than enough in spring practices to make Michigan’s starting quarterback spot a three-way race to start preseason camp. By mid-August, Harbaugh said O’Korn and Speight had created enough separation to make it a two-man competition.
What Peters has done at Michigan
With Speight sidelined, Peters was the No. 2 quarterback in Michigan’s 14-10 loss to Michigan State last weekend. He has attempted — and completed — one pass this season: a 4-yarder to Maurice Ways on fourth-and-3 from the Purdue 35-yard line on the final play of the Wolverines’ 28-10 win against the Boilermakers.
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