Big Ten: Vince Smith

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

He could still be in high school and has yet to take a snap in a college game. So why is Tate Forcier such a popular man this spring at Michigan? Because he plays the most important position on the field for a program trying to expunge a historically bad season and move forward behind second-year coach Rich Rodriguez. Perhaps most importantly, Forcier appears to fit the spread offense, something that couldn't be said for Michigan's quarterbacks last fall.

The true freshman from San Diego, who enrolled at Michigan in January, is taking the majority of snaps this spring after Nick Sheridan broke his leg and Steven Threet transferred. Forcier is considered the frontrunner for the top job, at least until classmate Denard Robinson arrives this summer.

As his spring education winds down -- Michigan's spring session wraps up Saturday -- the 6-foot-1, 187-pound Forcier took some time to discuss his progress and the outlook for the season.

You're almost done with spring ball. Has it flown by?

Tate Forcier: I've had a lot of fun. Just picking up the offense and getting in more of a rhythm with the plays and everything, it makes it fun when you start to understand what you're doing. That's kind of the stage I'm at right now.

Do you have any idea what you'd be doing right now if you were still in high school?

TF: I'd probably be sitting on my butt. I'm happy I'm here. I'd actually recommend it to kids who graduate early. You'd be surprised how much these 15 practices help you. Just how far coach [Rod] Smith has brought me along, it's unreal. I learned more from him in this period of time than I've learned my whole life. So it's an advantage and I'm happy I'm here.

What was the hardest thing to pick up? Was it the differences between this spread offense and the one you ran in high school? Was it the speed or the number of plays?

TF: Really, it was more understanding why they're calling this specific play at this specific time. A spread is a spread, no matter how you run it. I ran the same type of spread in high school, so there's no difference between it, except it's a little more complicated, obviously, because there's signals and everything, rather than just getting a play from a coach. It's more understanding why they're calling that specific play. But speed wise, I heard it was such a different speed, but I'm still playing at the same speed. It's not like my game's slowing down. You get used to it. You're going against kids that are just as good as you. The way I looked at it, I stepped my game up.

In terms of the pace of the install, was it faster than what you thought? Did you expect them to throw a lot at you?

TF: They throw a lot early in the week, and that first practice of the week, you're so lost out there, you don't know what you're doing. And then you'll go back and watch film, and then that next practice, you had that week and you understand it more. And then when you have practice that Saturday, you understand exactly the full play, the progressions and everything. They help you build on it so you understand it more. Coach Smith and coach Rodriguez, they've done a great job at bringing me along. They're not making me do too much. They're just trying to get me to understand the playbook and the plays and everything. Right now, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the playbook.

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