As was touched on yesterday on Wolverine Digest, Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara is one of two players really competing for the QB 1 position, the other being Joe Milton. That much is evident.
Though Michigan has not come out and publicly announced who is in the lead, the prevailing notion is that Milton will be U-M's starter for its Week 1 matchup with Minnesota. But even though that may be so, it certainly will not deter McNamara as he strives to become the best option at quarterback for the Wolverines this season.
According to Shawn Dupris, who was McNamara's head coach at Reno (Nev.) Damonte Ranch, Michigan's presumed backup quarterback has the mentality, the moxie and the drive to start as the No. 2 option and eventually exceed his initial expectations, whether that is through his play as a starter or in mop up duty for blowouts.
"The best ones are the guys that take that on and say heck yeah and bring that on," Dupris told Wolverine Digest. "Cade definitely is that guy. He's going to challenge kids like in seventh grade going against high school kids playing seven-on-seven. He could barely get his hand around the ball, but that didn't stop his mentality from believing that he could make that throw. He was gonna make that read and all the things going along with it. I think people gravitate toward his abilities to lead, and I think they gravitate towards his confidence."
McNamara continued that trend of earning early playing time against older competition at Damonte Ranch as well. After winning the starting job as a freshman against a returning all-conference junior, McNamara settled into his position as 'the guy' for the Mustangs. Eventually, McNamara would go on to set the Nevada state record for passing yards and touchdowns, but Dupris remembers a specific play during McNamara's high school career that really embodies what he can bring to a team.
"He's had a lot of outstanding games obviously since he has big numbers," Dupris said. "I don't think it has to do with a certain throw or any of the physical ability. I think it's his will to win. Most recently, it was his senior year and we were at St. Mary's in California-- that's a very good school. They're always their in the top 20 in California, and we went to their place in a hostile environment. They had some fine words for us at the beginning of the game that we didn't belong with them and that we were going to be an easy opponent. I let the team know that that's what I was hearing when I was outside, and Cade basically took over and told them we weren't going to lose this game."
And when McNamara said his team was not going to lose the game, he meant it. In the waning moments of the contest, Damonte Ranch found itself facing a fourth down with seven yards to go. From there, McNamara's competitive juices truly began to flow.
"Cade got flushed out [of the pocket] and from about six yards out from the first down [and] jumped over a guy five feet up in the air," Dupris said. "I was holding my breath like please don't do that. He did it, we got the first down and then we ended up going down and scoring and winning the game."
On that singular drive, McNamara displayed the drive that propelled him to a starting position on the team three seasons earlier. It's the same drive that helped him earn a scholarship to Michigan, and Dupris thinks it is a quality that will pay dividends as he fights to become the top passer in Ann Arbor.
"The effort and the ability that he didn't care, the recklessness for his body, he ended up playing the rest of the season because of that play with a fractured back," Dupris said. "That's the kind of guy he is. He doesn't even think about it. He just knows that that's what the goal is, and he needs that first down, we need that first down. That's what it is. I think there's obviously a lot of big games, but I always think about his competitiveness and will to make it happen."
While the season does not start for three and a half more weeks, McNamara is going to keep competing with Milton for an opportunity to play. Even if he does not win the starting job right now, he will continue to work hard in practice, and that's why Dupris ultimately believes he will be a successful quarterback at Michigan.
What do you think will happen at the QB position for Michigan this season? Does McNamara have a shot to win the job or does Milton have it locked up already? Let us know!