Who Will Start at Quarterback for Michigan Now That Joe Milton is Transferring?

The Michigan Wolverines have lost two quarterbacks to the transfer portal this offseason, setting up a battle for a new starter in 2021.
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The Michigan Wolverines quarterback room is turning over more than we expected this offseason.

It had long been rumored that Dylan McCaffrey was going to transfer, and two years ago, highly praised prospect Brandon Peters also left as he transferred to Illinois. Now, Joe Milton is joining the exodus out of Ann Arbor.

Milton entered the transfer portal on Thursday, bringing about yet another dramatic question this offseason for Michigan. Who will be Jim Harbaugh's starting quarterback in 2021? In all likelihood, it will be either Cade McNamara or true freshman SI All-American J.J. McCarthy. They only other scholarship quarterback on the roster is redshirt freshman Dan Villari.

Joe Milton

"I want to thank Coach Harbaugh for giving me that opportunity to come play for a program with lots of tradition," Milton wrote on Twitter. "I have bonds with my brothers that will last forever."

Milton had drawn such high praise last year that some folks were comparing him to Cam Newton. There certainly was hope from within the Michigan fan base that the team would have its first start quarterback since Jim Harbaugh took over the program. Milton had the physical tools that made the comparison to Newton reasonable - most 6-foot-5 quarterbacks don't run as well as Milton does and have that kind of arm strength.

But when the pressure mounted, Milton folded. He battled inaccuracy problems all season and he was eventually benched. Over six games last year, he threw four touchdowns, four interceptions and completed 80-of-141 passes for 1,077 yards. He was pulled in the Rutgers game that Michigan came back to win in triple-overtime, when McNamara brought the Wolverines out of a 17-point hole on the road.

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Milton came back in the next week when McNamara got hurt early in the Penn State game, but he couldn't rally the Wolverines to a win.

So moving forward, whose team is this? McNamara seems like he would probably be the favorite, but J.J. McCarthy should have a chance to compete for the job.

Whoever the new starter is, there is plenty of pressure to get the program back to being where they want to be. 2020 was a disaster. And with coach Harbaugh's new contract extension and his announcement that he's now taking over coaching the quarterbacks after he shuffled his staff this offseason, there will be plenty of eyeballs on this developing situation.

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