With the start of Michigan's season less than a month away, Michigan offensive coordinator has been intentionally coy about which quarterback has the leg up on the starting position. While all signs point towards Joe Milton taking the first offensive snap against Minnesota, Gattis has praised U-M sophomore Cade McNamara on numerous occasions, which should be no surprise for those paying attention.
"What we’ve seen so far from Cade and Joe, both of those guys display a tremendous amount of talent to be able to lead us at the quarterback position," Gattis said recently. "Both of those guys are playing very well."
Gattis went on further to say that it's too early to publicly announce a starting quarterback. But whether McNamara is No. 1 or No. 2 on the depth chart, he is a very important piece to this football team that will be counted on at different points throughout the season. Whether in mop up duty or in injury relief of Milton, it is likely that McNamara will see the field early in his college career.
But that has been the case throughout McNamara's entire athletic career. As a seventh grader, the now-Wolverine competed on a seven-on-seven team that traveled across California for tournaments, and he earned a position on the varsity team at that young age. Though he lacked arm strength at the time, McNamara could make all the reads and helped galvanize the players around him.
Those are qualities that would help McNamara in his current quarterback battle, and those are qualities that Shawn Dupris, his former high school coach at Reno (Nev.) Damonte Ranch, says he possesses in spades.
"Cade's best attribute as far as I'm concerned is his competitiveness," Dupris told Wolverine Digest. "He split time with a returning all-conference quarterback that was a junior when he was a freshman for three games, then after the third game Cade came in and started the rest of the season because he had just outplayed the other kid."
Since the decision to name McNamara as the starter moving forward was a polarizing decision, it forced the freshman quarterback to step up and rally the troops so that they could string together a successful season.
"When it comes down to it, with how Cade played it wasn't hard for me to stick by that decision," Dupris said. "It was one of those things where I talked to Cade to tell him to fight through and battle, and that's why I think it sets him up really good in this position to be in the spot he's in right now."
As Dupris alludes to, McNamara could be asked to step up as a sophomore and lead Michigan's offense depending on how the preseason and regular season shake out. That fact makes his previous experience all the more important.
"He's been in this position before as far as battling and competing, trying to win a locker room and trying to win a huddle," Dupris said. "He's been there and he's done that, obviously at a different level, but I think the skills he's learned and that he developed through that process are definitely going to help right now."
As a player that threw for the Nevada state record in passing yards and touchdowns, McNamara had his shining moments during high school, but what Dupris saw from his pupil every day in practice is what really has stuck with him ever since.
"A kid that's not afraid to lead, and he's not afraid to stick his neck out there and motivate," Dupris said. "He's not afraid to challenge people. We had a defensive backs coach and Cade and he used to yell at each other back and forth all practice. That's something that Cade has and he's not afraid to speak up-- and I'm not saying Cade's a trash talker or any of that. I think it comes back down to that competitiveness and not being afraid."
Since McNamara is fighting for his position on the depth chart at this very moment, Dupris has no doubt that he is mentally prepared to compete in the QB competition that he's currently embroiled in.
"One thing about Cade is he wasn't afraid to take on that," Dupris said. "It's tough nowadays for kids to not let their peers think that because he's a little bit different and he pushes himself a little bit more, he expects everyone around him to do that. I think you're seeing that natural leadership quality that he has in a quarterback that's not afraid of the stage no matter how long he has been on campus. He is not afraid to get out there and lead the guys."
Up to this point, McNamara was a player that exceeded expectations in middle and in high school. That track record is indicative of a player who will be ready for his opportunity at Michigan whenever it comes. He has done so in the past and Dupris is confident he can do so again when his number is called.
What are your expectations for Michigan's starting quarterback this year? Will Michigan create leads large enough to play the backup for an extensive period of time this season? Let us know!