ANN ARBOR - Steven Threet was under pressure yesterday afternoon, but it wasn't menacing linebackers or 300-pound linemen applying the heat.
Reporters packing notebooks, digital recorders, and lots of questions were the ones blitzing Threet, the University of Michigan freshman quarterback and Adrian High graduate.
In the span of about 15 minutes, Threet fielded inquiries from over a dozen reporters and cameramen who wanted his opinion on everything from possibly being the Wolverines' starting quarterback, to Terrelle Pryor's choosing of Ohio State, to the UM program's family values.
Welcome to life as a quarterback in major college football.
"This is different," Threet said of all the attention he received following practice yesterday. "Then again, this is Michigan, so I kind of expected it. Being the quarterback at Michigan puts a lot of pressure on you."
UM coach Rich Rodriguez said Threet and sophomore Nick Sheridan are the Wolverines' top two quarterbacks ahead of sophomore David Cone, but said Threet and Sheridan were even.
Yet when the Wolverines scrimmaged during practice yesterday, Threet, who has been sick with flu-like symptoms this week, was the first quarterback on the field.
Threet said he wasn't concerned with his place on Rodriguez's depth chart, but his goal is definitely to start at quarterback when UM opens the season against Utah on Aug. 30.
"That's what you compete for," Threet said. "You want to be the guy out there taking the snaps in front of 110,000 [people], but that comes in time. Right now, it's spring practice. We're learning the offense and things like that."
And if Threet is indeed the Wolverines' top quarterback, is he prepared to be taking snaps in front of over 100,000 fans at the Big House?
"Right now, I would have to probably say no because we're on practice seven of spring ball," Threet said. "But we've got a lot of time to get ready."
Threet, 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, said the offense he ran at Adrian was similar in style to Rodriguez's spread-option scheme, but the plays and terminology are more complex.
Threet's chief competitors, Sheridan and Cone, both entered spring ball with a grasp of former coach Lloyd Carr's pro-style offense, and lost that advantage over Threet when Rodriguez took over.
"It's not an evil competition, we're all helping each other out," said Sheridan, who is still not on scholarship at UM. "Me and Dave, being in the system prior to that, we definitely would've been the veterans. We're the oldest guys who are left, so we would've been helping Steve out. But in this system Steve's learning just the same as we are."
The road was cleared for Threet and Sheridan to battle for the job when Ryan Mallet announced he was transferring to Arkansas. But a major roadblock for both of them was avoided when Pryor announced earlier this month he was going to Ohio State instead of UM.
Pryor, from western Pennsylvania's Jeannette High, is about the same size as Threet, and is commonly referred to as the top high school quarterback in the country.
Ohio State was always considered the frontrunner to land Pryor, but Pryor's skill set matches him so well with Rodriguez's spread offense that UM became a viable option for him.
Threet said he wasn't happy Pryor picked the Buckeyes per se, but he tried to stay away from the Internet and not focus on where Pryor was headed.
"I mean, he's a great player, but whatever happened, happened," Threet said. "I can only worry about the things I can control, and that was his decision."
As for the topic du jour in Ann Arbor last week - offensive lineman Justin Boren's declaration that he was leaving the team because the program's "family values have eroded" - Threet said he doesn't question the team's values.
"We're a family, we're the Michigan football family," was how he put it.
But Threet, who had to sit out last season because he transferred to UM from Georgia Tech, said he knows what it's like to be Boren from the standpoint of having others question him for leaving a program.
Rodriguez, who consistently says he only talks about the "players who play for Michigan," said yesterday he was angered by Boren's comments, which were made in a prepared statement e-mailed to some media outlets on Wednesday.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "I've been a head coach for 15 years and I think we have as close a family unit - coaches, staff members, and team - as anybody in the country. Always has been and always will be."
Rodriguez said his wife's mother and sister have been at UM's last three practices, and "they don't live here. They live seven hours away.
"Family is pretty important to all of us, and every coach will tell you that," Rodriguez said. "Just ask anybody that's played for me for the last 15 years. Don't ask somebody that's left with a different agenda."
Contact Joe Vardon at: