July 26, 2007

Hot topic: To play or redshirt Ryan Mallett

The last time Michigan signed a five-star quarterback he wound up starting the very first game of his true freshman season. That won't likely happen for Ryan Mallett, not with Chad Henne - that five-star quarterback - set to finish his final season in Ann Arbor. But, the majority of fans do expect to see Mallett in the opener against Appalachian State. Is that a good thing? Should he play or should he redshirt? …

If possible, redshirt Mallett … by Michael Spath

The mere thought of redshirting Mallett probably makes quite a few who have followed his recruitment since the summer of 2005 sick. They have been waiting, patiently, to see what all the fuss is about. On film, and from expert testimony, they know Mallett is huge, they know he has a cannon and they know he has the potential to be even better than Henne … well maybe. They know they can't wait any longer to see what the growing legend can do.

One more year of patience, though, might pay off even more substantially. Here's why you play Mallett - to get him experience for 2008 so that if he is the starter he's a little seasoned. Maybe also because he's your prized recruit and you want to show him off a bit, helping to woo other prospects to Ann Arbor. Both are good reasons, but there's a better reason to redshirt him.

It's not ideal to break in a starting quarterback that has no game experience, but Henne proved it can be done. He didn't have the benefit of much more than a few weeks of fall camp, and only a week or so of first-team snaps. If Mallett were to redshirt, he would have two springs and two fall camps under his belt, plus have stood on the sidelines and in the meeting rooms for a full 12-game regular season and bowl contest. He'll have experience, just not the game variety.

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