The most important position in any sport is the quarterback position. Most of the time, if you have a great quarterback, you’ve got a great team. If you don’t have a great quarterback, you probably don’t have a great shot of winning a title.
So does Michigan have its next great quarterback in redshirt sophomore Joe Milton? Can he put the Wolverines over the top and compete with the Ohio State’s of the world? We will certainly find out soon enough, as the season is just a few weeks away.
But until then, here is my full depth chart prediction.
Starter — Joe Milton, RS SO
Before Dylan McCaffrey opted out, I believed Milton had the greater ceiling of the two. Milton is a physical specimen at 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds. Combine that with his ability to escape the pocket and pick up yards on the ground, and you’ve got yourself a potentially scary quarterback.
Milton played in four games his true freshman season and was still able to preserve that redshirt. In those four games, he was 3-of-4 passing for 58 yards and one interception. One of those completions came against Ohio State, and it was an absolute lazer to Nico Collins.
He also played in four games last season, completing 3-of-7 passes for 59 yards, one touchdown and one pick. He also ran for 16 yards and one touchdown.
The time has come for Milton to prove he can be more than just a guy that launches the ball 70 yards down the field. This offseason, he has been working on the touch in his passes, as well as pocket awareness. We will see how that translates from practice to a real game situation very soon.
Backup — Cade McNamara, RS FR
McNamara has not yet seen the field in Ann Arbor. He took a redshirt season — as every U-M quarterback has under Jim Harbaugh — in 2019 and is still waiting his turn in line.
Josh Gattis recently talked up McNamara to the media, saying, “One of the things that stands out about Cade is that he is able to anticipate throws and play on time.” He went on to say, “He’s gained that mental confidence he’s needed to make jumping from his redshirt year to being a redshirt freshman.”
Before McCaffrey opted out, I would have said McNamara probably wouldn’t see the field unless there is an injury, or if there was a chance in mop up duty. But now he is the clear backup to Milton and may have some legitimate opportunities in 2020.
Third-stringer — Dan Villari, FR
Michigan was in an unfortunate spot at quarterback in the 2020 class when four-star commit JD Johnson had to medically retire due to a heart condition. The Wolverines then went all in on four-star CJ Stroud, who ended up committing to Ohio State (shocker).
But Harbaugh and Gattis rebounded nicely when they offered Villari on Dec. 18, 2019, the Wednesday of the early signing period. He committed and signed his letter of intent the following day.
Villari is listed at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds. He hails from New York, which isn’t exactly a hotbed for football talent. But he performed well enough for the Wolverines to extend that offer and want him to join the class.
Unless all hell breaks loose, he won’t see the field in 2020.