All Eyes On Joe Milton Heading Into 2020 Season

Eric Rutter

It has been repeated often in recent months that Michigan has been an elite talent at quarterback away from making a serious indent on the national scale. Though Wilton Speight and Shea Patterson both allowed Michigan to win a lot of games, neither had the ability to elevate the program into the top 5 or College Football Playoff discussion consistently. 

Though it is early, Joe Milton is being looked at as a player who has the physical tools to potentially lift Michigan over the hump. Without Dylan McCaffrey to battle for the starting job, Milton is in as good of a position as ever to turn heads this fall, especially because he's already doing so in fall camp according to receiver Ronnie Bell. 

"I talked about it with one of the guys about a week ago, and this is the best I’ve ever seen Joe," Bell said. "Joe got here a semester before me, but I’ve been around Joe as much as anybody and he’s just lights out right now. It’s just very exciting to play alongside him. Like I said, I told the guys the other day, this is the best I’ve seen him play."

It is clear that Milton has a rocket arm, but honing in that missile launcher has been priority No. 1 as of late. But according to former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, Milton is looking as accurate as ever. Bell echoed those sentiments, and there are positive offseason reports on Milton coming from all directions.

Although his road to being named the starter is much easier without McCaffrey, Milton still has not publicly been named QB1 at Michigan ahead of the 2020 season. That was the latest public development from U-M offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.  

"That’s a little bit over my head because that’s Coach Harbaugh’s decision," Gattis said. "I think our competition is going really well and we’re keeping our quarterback competition going. We haven’t really named starters in our building yet. I can’t really tell you who is going to start at receiver as we start to get into what we consider the start of our training camp which will be September 30. There’s still a lot of days left before we kick off."

What that alludes to is that Cade McNamara has been performing well throughout fall camp to even make this a position battle, but it would not be prudent to name Milton as the de facto start this early with nearly a month to go until Week 1. 

"I know we’re excited about the first game but we have to constantly remind ourselves, the first game is over a month away," Gattis said. "We’ve got a long time to keep developing these players and bringing them along. That’s across the board, I don’t think we’ll name any starters leading up until the game."

Despite the coy approach, it is evident that Milton has looked the part up to this point even if it's not time to publicly declare him the top passer on the roster. But when the season does roll around, Wolverine Digest expects Milton to start every game this year, and Brandon Brown outlined what a strong year for the strong-armed QB would look like earlier this summer:

A stellar statistical season for Milton would be somewhere in the 3,000-yard range with 20 or more touchdowns and 10 or less interceptions. It would also be really encouraging to see him complete 60-65% of his passes or better. Those aren't exactly eye-popping numbers, but I'd be pretty happy with that in his first year as a starter. I do think there's a chance he's much better than that, but I also that worse is a very realistic possibility as well.

Obviously, this assessment was put together before the season was shortened to its 8+1 format, so the yardage and touchdown numbers will need to be adjusted and scaled back to fit the current predicament, but a 2,300 yard season with 20+ touchdowns still seems like it's within reach. 

What do you expect for Milton heading into the 2020 season? Does he win the job outright from Week 1 and keep it the whole year? Let us know!

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