LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh acknowledged he already knows whether quarterback Wilton Speight or John O’Korn will start for No. 7 Michigan in its opener.
The coach, though, wasn’t ready to give up that detail publicly Monday.
“I’ll say who our starting quarterback is before Saturday,” Harbaugh told a reporter. “I didn’t say I was going to say it to you.”
Privately, tight end Jake Butt insisted he also had not been told who will throw him passes Saturday at the Big House against Hawaii.
“Both guys are very capable of getting the job done, and they’ve both had a really good camp,” Butt said. “I really don’t know who the starter will be, but the coaching staff, whoever they send out there for Week 1 will be ready to rock and roll.”
Speight threw a game-winning touchdown pass late in a game last year at Minnesota in relief of injured starter Jake Rudock, who is trying to earn a spot with the Detroit Lions.
O’Korn threw 34 touchdowns and started 16 games at Houston before transferring to Michigan and sitting out last year.
Even though Harbaugh would not tell reporters who will take the first snap for his second team with the Wolverines, he did sound pleased with both candidates and the process that played out behind closed doors this month.
“It’s been very good, really from Day One, the competition at the quarterback position,” Harbaugh said. “And the play at the quarterback position has been very good. I feel like it’s been improving as well, daily, weekly. All the quarterbacks are playing at a very high level.”
Speight or O’Korn will be dropping back behind what seems to be a sold set of offensive linemen with talented and experienced options to hand the ball off to with running back De’Veon Smith along with receivers Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh and Butt.
“Both guys are actually pretty similar, pro-style quarterbacks,” Butt said. “They both throw pretty balls. They both understand this offense very well and that’s a testament to this coaching staff and how well they’ve prepared these guys.”
Harbaugh, who played quarterback at Michigan and in the NFL, has a track record of developing signal callers in college and in the NFL, including Colin Kaepernick with the San Francisco 49ers.
Knowing they have a background together, Harbaugh was asked about Kaepernick’s stance to sit during the nation anthem in the hopes of shedding light on how poorly black people are treated in the U.S.
“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference.
Shortly thereafter, Harbaugh took to social media to say he was sorry about part of his statement.
“I apologize for misspeaking my true sentiments,” Harbaugh posted on Twitter. “To clarify, I support Colin’s motivation. It’s his method of action that I take exception to.”
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