Harbaugh Makes It Official, Names McNamara Starting QB

Meeting with the media on Monday, Jim Harbaugh announced his starting QB for the 2021 season.
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Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh made it official on Monday, naming Cade McNamara as the starting quarterback to begin the 2021 season.

"Cade McNamara is our starting quarterback," said Harbaugh during his media availability on Monday. "He's made constant improvement, he's really ratcheted it up in a lot of different areas. The biggest one is consistency - consistency of doing his job, also - call it a talent of making everybody else around you better. Maybe that is the most important job of a quarterback."

McNamara also spent time speaking with the media, reflecting on his new role as QB1 in Ann Arbor.

"I think my role on the team is specifically what has changed," said McNamara. "I always wanted to be the starter and last year, after winning the starting job at the end of the season, I never went through the off-season as a starter. So, my role is what's changed. My job is to be consistent, so I'm just trying to be as consistent as I possibly can."

Outside of a spectacular performance on the road against Rutgers in 2020, the sample size on McNamara as a college quarterback is nearly non-existent. To date, McNamara has played in just four games at the University of Michigan - completing 43 of 71 attempts for 453 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Yet, in spite of the lack of experience, McNamara has clearly done the necessary work to earn to the respect, support and trust of both coaches and teammates.

Here's just a small sample of what coaches and teammates have said about McNamara heading into the 2021 season.

Jim Harbaugh, Head Coach

“Right now, Cade McNamara’s done a tremendous job. He played in some games last year and did very well — went through spring practice and was outstanding. He’s our number one quarterback going into fall camp,”

“You talk about taking the reins and leadership, that’s something that he has done, he has been that guy throughout the entire spring and training cycle, the summer. By example, and also pulling other guys along with him. He’s a fiery competitor, he’s got that gene — that he must win, must give it his best at all times.”

Matt Weiss, Quarterbacks Coach

“Cade is a guy who I think for everything people are going to say to criticize him, he’s a guy that’s going to end up playing 10 years in the NFL because you can say he’s not enough of this, not enough of that. But at the end of the day, he’s really smart, makes great decisions and processes things very fast, and his accuracy and arm strength are more than enough to win with. He’s a guy that’s been awesome to work with. He’s extremely valuable to our team. He’s our starter. Love the fact we have him.”

Cornelius Johnson, Junior - WR

"When you line up out there, he's somebody that you don't want to let down. Going out and lining up with Cade, its an honor to line up with him as a teammate."

Ryan Hayes, Senior - OL

“Cade’s leadership, since I’ve been here, I haven’t seen a quarterback really take charge like he has. He’s really trying to lead, he’s really putting that effort in, he’s not afraid to tell you when you need something or he wants something from you. So it’s been nice to have. Nice change.”

Aidan Hutchinson, Senior - DE

“He’s really stepped up. I’ve seen a big difference in him from last year this time of year and now. Even in our walkthroughs. We have player-led walkthroughs — he’s stepping up and having that voice in there. I think it’s good to have a solidifying voice on the offensive side. We haven’t had that in a while and I think it’s good that Cade is in there. He’s kind of the rock of the offense right now.”

For McNamara, winning over the locker room and solidifying the starting job is just half the battle.

 The next half of the battle consists of a schedule with five preseason AP Top 25 opponents, including No. 20 Washington, at No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 17 Indiana, at No. 19 Penn State and No. 4 Ohio State. In fact, Michigan's five preseason AP Top 25 opponents is tied for second most in the NCAA for the 2021 season.

Add to that the fact that Michigan hasn't won a game in Madison (Wisc.) since 2001, hasn't won a Big Ten championship since 2004, hasn't beaten Ohio State since 2011 and - well, you get the idea.

Needless to say, the real work for McNamara is about to begin.