Is Morris ready to lead Michigan?

Junior quarterback Shane Morris is expected to compete for the starting job next season. Can newly hired coach Jim Harbaugh mold Morris into a starting QB? Is Morris ready to lead the Michigan offense?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Like any quarterback who just received news that his new coach would be Jim Harbaugh, Shane Morris was excited. And why wouldn’t he be? He should be.

Heck, Morris should be ecstatic.

Morris knows – like everyone else in the football universe – Harbaugh has done wonders for quarterbacks. Most notably Andrew Luck, who he recruited, coached and mentored at Stanford and has since gone on to be an NFL No. 1 draft by the Indianapolis Colts, a pro-bowler, and now is considered one of the game’s best.

Just the mention of Luck alone should get any quarterback excited to be tutored by Harbaugh. And it doesn’t stop there, the newest Michigan coach also did wonders with the San Francisco 49ers. He rejuvenated Alex Smith’s career. He drafted a little known quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of Nevada, and went to a Super Bowl with him.

Harbaugh is really that good.

So, yeah, Morris will and should be excited.

“I’m just ready to go to work,” Morris said moments after the hire. “I’m very excited. He’s had several successes with the quarterbacks he’s worked with. I’m just ready to learn.”

Good answer.

Because that’s what Morris is going to have to do – is learn – a lot. Because based off two games worth of samples, Morris hasn’t shown much. And Michigan needs him to show more, especially with the starting quarterback up for grabs next season.

As of right now, you would assume the job is Morris’ to lose. Or at least he’ll get first crack at it. Is he ready?

That depends on Morris. The last time we saw him on the field, he was being put back in with what we later learned was a “mild” concussion versus Minnesota. It caused an uproar around the program, national headlines, and was just one of the many undoing’s for the firing of then coach Brady Hoke.

“It’s just a matter of getting hit at a bad place and a bad play,” third-year sophomore Drake Johnson said of Morris’ hit, adding: “I think Shane is great player. I think he will do well.”

Maybe the bigger question should be: Can Morris lead? Because whoever takes over as Michigan’s starting quarterback next fall, they must lead. It’s a part of the job. And if Morris is going to be that guy, and it will start this off-season.

“If Shane is a leader we all know him to be, then we’ll see that this winter,” fifth-year senior Jack Miller said. “We’ll see the leadership qualities come out during the workouts. Getting guys in [Schembechler hall] to start throwing the ball around and stuff like that. That stuff will happen.”

It has to, and Morris knows it.

“I have to,” said Morris, when asked if he’s becoming more of a leader. “A quarterback on the team always has to be a leader. Now I have been here for two years. I’m just excited to take over that role. Take a leadership role. I’m excited to do that. I’m going to work hard for the team.”

Good answer.

Because the job won’t be given to him. It will be earned. Morris will be challenged by redshirt freshman Wilton Speight, incoming four-star commit Alex Malzone and even fourth-year junior Russell Bellomy.

“Seeing that competition between Russell, between Wilton, between the new kid that’s coming in it’s going to be a huge thing,” Johnson said. “Anyone of them is going to step into the leadership position. It’s matter of who’s going to learn the offense. Who takes the reigns’.”

“Now that [Harbaugh is] here, it’s official -- I am very excited -- our whole team is excited,” Morris said. “We’re excited to learn from the best.”

Good answer.

For now.

Soon, real soon, we’ll find out if Morris is the answer at quarterback for Michigan.

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