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April 16, 2008
ANN ARBOR, Mich. ? Steven Threet is smart.
He's so smart, in fact, that he was valedictorian at Adrian (Mich.) High School, class of 2006. He's also smart enough to know that neither he nor anyone else who may emerge as Michigan's quarterback this season is likely to replace the production of Chad Henne, a four-year starter who left Ann Arbor as the Wolverines' leading career passer.
"I don't think you'll see one of us fill his shoes," Threet said. "Chad Henne will be a first- or second-round (NFL) draft choice, and we're freshmen and sophomores. We're just trying to help the team win."
After his respectable showing in the Michigan spring game Saturday, Threet would appear to be the leading candidate to start over sophomore Nick Sheridan. Incoming freshman Justin Feagin will enter the competition in August.
While Feagin projects as the best runner, Threet appears to be the superior passer. Saturday, he had a few sharp throws on slants and had a long completion to wide receiver Greg Mathews. Threet did throw an interception, but Sheridan tossed three.
Getting a grasp on coach Rich Rodriguez's offense was more important than completing passes this spring.
"Threet is a student," Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said. "He understands the offense. He's made some mistakes, but he's made some plays."
Mainly, he's making progress, which hasn't necessarily been easy considering that in a little more than a year, he has had four offensive coordinators.
Before the '07 season started, Threet transferred to Michigan and worked under offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. When coach Lloyd Carr retired after last season, Rodriguez and Magee arrived.
"I'm just getting used to the offense," Threet said. "This is my fourth college offense, and it's different. I'm somewhat comfortable, but not totally there. I'll get there."
"Getting there" means making quick decisions. On a given play, the quarterback in Rodriguez's system must decide whether to hand off, keep, pitch on the option or pass while reading various keys.
"You need to make a lot of decisions real quick," Threet said. "You're seeing the defense, not just one guy. You look at the rotation of the safeties. You have to see the whole defense to make the right read. After a while, you get used to it."
It takes a talented guy to do all that.
It takes a smart one, too.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.