Michigan football's QB race isn't over. Cade McNamara's 'Wow plays' are turning heads, too.

Orion Sang
Detroit Free Press

Most expect Joe Milton to take over Michigan football's starting quarterback job.

Don't tell that to Cade McNamara.

The Wolverines' other returning scholarship quarterback has made quite the impression through practices and workouts — and, according to offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, has matched Milton throw for throw. 

"He’s made as many big-time throws as Joe," Gattis said. "Probably about the same number. There's some 'wow' plays." 

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McNamara is the other man left standing in Michigan's quarterback battle after Dylan McCaffrey — the most experienced member of the trio — opted out of the 2020 season with plans to transfer.

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara passes during the spring football game at Michigan Stadium, April 13, 2019.

Milton has received plenty of praise from teammates and coaches and could be considered the favorite to win the job based on his standing on the depth chart. But McNamara, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound Nevada native, has played well even after some recent struggles.

"I think Cade will appreciate this: the first four days that we came back, Cade was in a little bit of a funk," Gattis said. "He was more so in freshman mode where he was used to being on the scout team last year, not necessarily getting a lot of the full-speed reps. It took him about four or five days and then literally about day five, I saw him make a throw in practice and when he hit it, he kinda nodded his head three times like he was playing a song in his head.

"And ever since then he’s been on fire."

Last season, McNamara redshirted and played quarterback for the scout team, where his job was to help prepare the defense. It was a different role compared to this offseason when McNamara was thrust into the quarterback competition without the benefit of spring practices. 

So far, though, Gattis has noticed increased "mental confidence" from McNamara. 

"He had to kinda ease himself into this camp," Gattis said, "and he’s done an amazing job preparing himself.”

Gattis scoffed at the notion of McNamara being considered a "game manager" quarterback. He praised McNamara's ability to anticipate throws and "play on time" and believes the redshirt freshman has been "a much better player than he was last year."

The Wolverines have yet to name starters and will continue to keep their quarterback competition open, according to Gattis. Regardless of who wins the job, Gattis is confident in the position group — thanks in part to McNamara's development.

"I really love our quarterback room period," Gattis said. "Not only Joe but even Cade McNamara’s been playing unbelievable.

"... Obviously now we’re faced with being a little thin, losing Dylan, but we feel great about Joe and we feel great about Cade. Either one of those guys can go out and lead our team and our offense.”

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.