Michigan Wolverines’ quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Donovan Edwards are the exact kind of young nucleus a winning football team needs to be successful. McCarthy and Edwards aren’t quite the go-to guys yet, but they’re getting valuable playing time and embracing their roles on the team as true freshmen.
“I’m really appreciative of the coaches for giving me that meaningful experience,” McCarthy said. “It was really awesome to get that under my belt so early.”
Both McCarthy and Edwards currently sit behind players on the depth chart that have valuable playing experience in their Michigan careers. The youngsters look up to those teammates and try to learn as much as they can from them.
“Their mentality to the game and their skill sets,” Edwards said on what he can learn from running backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum. “They both have different styles in the way that they run, I feel as though I could take a little bit of both from their game. Hassan’s physicality, Blake’s versatility, Blake’s electricness.”
McCarthy has been seeing more snaps in meaningful moments of the game over the past couple of weeks, and he has looked to starting quarterback Cade McNamara this season for guidance.
“My relationship with Cade has been really awesome, it’s been very unique,” McCarthy said. “Something that I’ve never experienced before because I’ve been kind of the guy all of my career, and it’s a lot similar to my freshman year but something with Cade is someone that I look up to. Look up to as preparation, how he is as a leader, I’ve just been doing a lot of observing of how he is around the team and around the coaches, it’s been really good.”
McCarthy and Edwards know their current roles on the team, and they also understand their name could be called at any time and they want to be ready. The two of them, along with wide receivers Andrel Anthony and Cristian Dixon, have started hitting the practice field as soon as they return from away games, with the post-game practice this past weekend beginning at 4:30 a.m.
“Hopefully we can get some more guys out there, it was definitely interesting at 4:30 in the morning, it was a cool experience,” McCarthy said. “It was awesome seeing the guys wanting to get the same work in, really just, we’re chasing greatness, that’s what we’re doing, and it doesn’t matter what age we are, we’ve been chasing that since we were youngins.”
McCarthy told a story about a boy going to a concert with a guitar pick in his pocket just in case he is called upon to play on stage, to illustrate what it’s like for him and other young players waiting on their number to be called.
“That analogy to me really stuck,” McCarthy said. “We’re doing everything we possibly can to get in the game, but we’re not expecting to get in the game. We’re just knowing that we’re ready no matter what, we got our guitar pick in our pocket and we’ll be ready to go when our number is called.”
It might be a little bit longer until McCarthy and Edwards are the leaders of the Michigan football team, but there’s no question that the future is bright with these two.