Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke with Jon Jansen on the In the Trenches Podcast about a variety of topics on an episode released Thursday morning. One of those topics was the quarterback position.
Harbaugh said Cade McNamara had a great spring, is very confident, knows the system inside and out, is a sponge for knowledge. Harbaugh said that five-star freshman J.J. McCarthy was terrific and got himself all the way up to number two on the depth chart.
Then there’s Dan Villari, someone who hasn’t seen the field yet for Michigan but someone who’s been described as very athletic and a dual-threat QB. Harbaugh said that Michigan might use Villari in a role reminiscent of New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill, who’s done everything from line up in the slot, line up at QB to run an RPO look, be a lead blocker, line up at running back, and even block punts.
“Dan Villari, for those who saw the spring game, was really good, really effective. Excited about Dan. Was kind of looking at Dan in multiple ways — throw out the name Taysom Hill, we’re gonna try to do some things like that with Dan Villari as a quarterback slash athlete that can really help our team,” Harbaugh said. “I think he can do it. A lot to like about Dan Villari.”
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has utilized Hill in ways that have led to Hill rushing for 809 yards and 11 TDs, 30 receptions and 7 TDs, and 1,047 yards passing in three years of action. Hill presented a change-of-pace to Drew Brees, who was strictly a pocket passer. While using Hill didn’t always lead to explosion, there’s a reason Hill is a known commodity — he’s produced and turned heads more than enough because of his diverse skill-set and unique role. If Michigan believes Villari has the ability to be an asset as a runner, pass-catcher, thrower, and be an all-around mismatch, there’s good reason for Michigan to consider utilizing him in a Taysom Hill-esque capacity.
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Offensive lineman Andrew Stueber mentioned in March that Villari has been impressive with his read option and it’s been nice seeing him run out of the pocket, “making some moves”.
The 6-foot-4 227 pound Villari, who’s a former three-star recruit out of Long Island, has always been known to be a versatile athlete. QB trainer James Brady is high on him and spoke with Maize n Brew about his intangibles back in 2019. “On the field his biggest strengths are his arm strength and athleticism,” Brady said. “He has the arm to drive the ball down the field, fit it into tight windows, and elite athleticism to extend and create plays inside and outside of the pocket when the play breaks down.”