Jake Rudock. Wilton Speight. Shea Patterson. Joe Milton. Those names represent the starting quarterbacks Michigan has had heading into Week 1 of the season since 2015.
A new name will be added to that list next month when Michigan takes on Western Michigan to start the season.
“Of all the years, the quarterback play right at the beginning has been really sharp. Really good,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh told the media on Friday afternoon.
The top of the quarterback room consists of Cade McNamara and five-star true freshman J.J. McCarthy, followed by Texas Tech grad transfer Alan Bowman, and Dan Villari.
Harbaugh noted that McNamara and McCarthy have impressed, but McNamara is in the lead. At Big Ten Media Days Harbaugh named McNamara the starting quarterback heading into fall camp and said McCarthy was fighting — now fall camp is underway and the competition has continued to heat up, with McNamara and McCarthy pushing each other.
“Both Cade and J.J. have really started fast, there’s been no lull coming out of the gates. Cade’s ahead and he’s got so many of those competitive traits. Ability to make all the throws but, also, the ability to get the ball in other people’s hands. Make others better,” Harbaugh said. “That’s probably job number one of a quarterback when it comes right down to it, to be that point guard. He’s on it, he’s on every detail, he’s on every facet of the position in leadership, et cetera. I don’t see him taking a knee or taking a breath.”
Harbaugh mentioned McCarthy has the same competitive fire as McNamara and continues to improve during his first year on campus. “J.J.’s got the same traits, he really does. He’s off to a fast start and playing really well. Improving as well. Improving on those abilities of you don’t have to win the whole game yourself,” Harbaugh said. “Every single down, being a guy that distributes the ball to as many playmakers that we have in the backfield and at the wide receiver position. He’s taken to that and his growth has been exponential that way. It’s good.”
While McNamara and McCarthy are at the top of the pack, Harbaugh said that Villari and Bowman are playing really well and that Bowman has “a lot of time on task”, “a lot of experience and it’s shown”.