Cleary confident in ability to compete
Written by Matt Pargoff   

For a redshirt freshman quarterback to be just one “boo-boo” away from leading the Michigan team is an occurrence in itself, but for a walk-on at that experience level to take on such a situation is even more unusual. As the competition at the backup quarterback position unfolds, that could be exactly the scenario in which Brian Cleary finds himself.

In late March, redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy tore his ACL, leaving Cleary to handle the backup responsibilities to Devin Gardner during spring practice.

“That was the understanding that this could potentially happen,” noted Cleary at Media Day on Sunday. “It’s kind of part of the game. I’m good friends with Russ, so it’s disappointing as far as that goes, but I do realize it’s a great opportunity for me. Just to help this team in some way is exciting for me.”

While Cleary was aware of the depth situation at Michigan when he arrived last year, the sudden influx of attention since Bellomy’s injury has been a bit overwhelming. The importance of the role he could play has helped to keep the young signal caller focused.

“It’s pretty crazy, but at the same time, the coaches have been doing a great job with us,” said Cleary. “The big thing for me is just getting everything down physically and getting the reps to understand the offense so I don’t let this team down. If it’s needed, I can finish out the game or whatever’s needed. I feel confident of that, so I don’t feel that much pressure as far as that goes. The big thing is all the work that this team puts in and making sure I do my part.”

Cleary will of course not be the Wolverines’ only option at the position. While he handled the backup job during the spring, Michigan has since added true freshman Shane Morris to the position. The Warren De La Salle star has a strong arm and earned high rankings from the recruiting services, but lacks the experience of his counterpart at the position.

“Learning the offense is tricky - it didn’t happen overnight,” noted Cleary of his own experience. “Those reps I got in spring ball and my experience playing the game [are an advantage]. I feel like the coaches can depend on me to know the reads and know what to do.

“It might be small things. It might just be managing a game or finishing a game off. I’m pretty confident in my ability to carry out the reads and carry out the offense, just with the year that I’ve got.”

The competition between Cleary and Morris will continue to unfold as fall camp proceeds for the next two weeks. The Wolverines will kick off the season on Aug. 31, playing host to Central Michigan.

Watch the video below for more from Cleary.

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