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Posted on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 5:50 p.m.

It's happened before: Don't count Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan out of the Wolverines' QB competition

By Michael Rothstein

Nick Sheridan didn’t even let the question finish before he shook his head and gave his answer.

“No,” Sheridan said. “Not at all. Nope.”

The question referred to whether or not he felt people were writing him off in the public perception of Michigan’s three-headed quarterback competition or if he gets frustrated about answering questions about his competitors, Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson.

And to be sure, there were many thrown at the junior quarterback - the first time any of the three contenders for the position faced the media this fall.

Sure, part of the reason Sheridan fielded questions about Forcier and Robinson has to do with quarterback competitions being sexy copy for media and, frankly, what fans care about. And it also has to do with Michigan’s policy of not letting freshmen, which Forcier and Robinson are, speak to the media.

Sheridan, though, has almost become an afterthought - much like he was last season when it appeared that Steven Threet would win the job last preseason after transferring in from Georgia Tech.

Except Sheridan played well enough in training camp to win the job and the start in the season-opener against Utah. It’s part of why none of this bothers him, be it questions about the freshmen quarterbacks or the fact that many are already anointing Forcier, even though Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said last week he won’t name a starter until game week and possibly even game day.

“I think I have a self-driven ambition to work hard,” Sheridan said. “So as far as you guys (the media) adding fuel to my fire, I’ve been written off before, so that’s OK.

“You’re just doing your job.”

So why could Sheridan win the job, despite the tea leaf reading that Forcier seems to be in line to take the thing based on Rodriguez’ praise for the Californian?

First, is experience. He’s been in the system for a full year, played in the system last year and has demonstrated the ability to have a brief flash of success against Minnesota last year when he threw for 203 yards and a touchdown. There’s also that he feels like he’s stronger - he weighs between 215 and 220 pounds - and athletic enough to handle what a spread option quarterback needs to do.

He wouldn’t, though, say any of that. Instead, he deflected the question, throwing out the old clichés of doing what’s best for Michigan and trying as hard as he can when he’s out there.

There’s little doubt he’s doing that.

“You can tell Nick has been in the system a year and he’s an older guy because he’s seeing things a whole lot quicker,” Rodriguez said. “But those other guys, yesterday’s practice in particular, they made a lot of plays as well.”

For almost a week and a half now, the three are competing still. And Rodriguez said they’ll start to analyze what’s going on further - both with what the quarterbacks have grasped and who could b inching ahead - at the end of the week, which leaves exactly two weeks until the Sept. 5 opener against Western Michigan.

And Rodriguez said both Forcier and Robinson are on pace to where they’d like them.

So what does he think it’ll take for any of the quarterbacks to win the job?

“The guy who makes the best decisions and takes care of the football and makes plays, you know, limits the negative yardage plays and penalties and turnovers,” Sheridan said. “The guy who does that the best is going to play the most.”

Is that Sheridan? And what makes him think he’s the best guy for the job instead of the two freshmen? None of this, though, is to say Sheridan will actually win the job.

“I don’t know,” Sheridan said. “You have to ask Coach Rod about that. I don’t know how to answer that.

“That’s the typical question. What do I bring that they don’t?”

The answer of whether he does or not will start to shake out over the next couple of weeks.

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Wed, Aug 19, 2009 : 10:55 a.m.

Well, I for one am going on record as having written Sheridan off and have counted him out of the so-called three man quarterback competition. Worst case scenario he's a 9-1-1 QB in case of an emergency should Forcier and Robinson go down with injuiries Heaven forbid).


Wed, Aug 19, 2009 : 10:51 a.m.

Sheridan could not start for any other team in the Big Ten other than Michigan.


Wed, Aug 19, 2009 : 9:24 a.m.

Sheridan is good to have as injury insurance and will serve as a valuable mentor to Forcier and Robinson, but Forcier and Robinson have more talent. In the end, talent wins out and I think Sheridan will only see mop up and situational duty, like being the holder for extra points and field goals or maybe running a trick play or two. I like Robinson in there in U-M's version of the Wildcat formation.


Wed, Aug 19, 2009 : 8:35 a.m.

Sure it matters this year but when Devin Gardner comes in next year there isnt going to be any question as to who is going to be the quarterback!!!


Wed, Aug 19, 2009 : 12:02 a.m.

After getting my first glimpse at Robinson tuck the ball and take off for a 70+ yard score, I would be willing to bet that Denard sees a ton of action. That kid is lightning fast. If he hits an open lane then opposing defenses better hope a corner or safety has a really good angle on him.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 10:52 p.m.

The very POSSIBLILITY of this happening should put any M fan into the fetal position. Sheridan is BRUTAL. Just not good at all. He would have trouble starting at a MAC school: seriously.

Michael Rothstein

Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 9:05 p.m.

AZWolverine, That was kind of the point of this. I'm not saying he's going to be the starter. In fact, I don't believe he will, at least not any sort of long-term solution. But, he's a good person to have around to either be a closer or have experience, which is why he's hanging around the competition still in the first place. Part of the point was that to write him off completely is tough to do with two weeks to go simply because the other options are freshmen.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 8:34 p.m.

No matter how you slice it, we are better off at QB this year than last. Both are freshman are a perfect fit for the system and, like him or not, Sheridan will be better than he was last year simply for the experience and added strength. He's a good option to have as a backup in a pinch and a veteran who can help guide the young guys. Obviously he's not the full time answer we're looking for, but I'm glad to have him in the role he's in.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 7:48 p.m.

What a waste of a story. Nick Sheridan is, at best, a 2nd or 3rd string qb at any mediocre school in the country. It was painfully obvious that he lacked arm strength, accuracy, and his footwork was not near what is required to run RRod's offense. Taking the time to consider this is just nonsense. Keep that bench warm, Nicky!


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 7:39 p.m.

As much as I like redemption stories, I would rather see Sheridan in a nice role as the human victory cigar.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 6:13 p.m.

Hope springs eternal.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 5:45 p.m.

When the smoke clears,'ll be ol' #23 under center!


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 5:19 p.m.

Michael, are you TRYING to give us all heart attacks? I admire the kid's heart, but winning the job over a relatively immobile non-system redshirt freshman is a little easier than beating out TWO system QBs. I'd still be surprised if anyone other than Tate starts against Western.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 5:16 p.m.

Go Blue! Nice to have some good QB options