Cade McNamara, the two-time player of the year in Nevada and state’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns, made it official on Wednesday.
He’s a Michigan man.
The four-star quarterback sent in his National Letter of Intent this morning, announced by the team on social media, and plans to hold a more formal announcement ceremony this afternoon at his high school in Reno, Nev.
Over the summer, MLive published McNamara’s incredible story: one that included bouts of loneliness and dissent at Damonte Ranch High School, but saw his talent rise above to win the starting job. He went on to throw for more than 12,000 yards and 146 touchdowns, setting all kinds of school and Nevada state records.
The 6-foot-1, 206-pound McNamara plans to enroll early at Michigan and start the process of being a collegiate football player. But it’s not going to be easy — it never is at Michigan, especially under Jim Harbaugh — with a crowded quarterback room already in place.
Uncertainty remains with Shea Patterson, the junior who started all 12 games at quarterback for Michigan in 2018. Patterson not only started every game, but he was, by far, the best and most complete quarterback available. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,364 yards and 21 touchdowns, with just five interceptions, and managed the offense well.
If Patterson, a junior, chooses to return to Michigan for one more season, then he would be the proverbial favorite to win the starting job again in 2019. Everyone behind him would have to wait another year. And, as of right now, that’s a pretty long list, with McNamara expected to start at the very bottom.
Brandon Peters, the redshirt sophomore who carries the most game experience of the bunch, still has two years of eligibility remaining. Dylan McCaffrey, who played in six games in 2018 before suffering a broken collarbone, still has three years.
And Joe Milton — the strong-armed true freshman who has played in three games this season — will still have a full four.
Even if Patterson does decide to move on and declare for the NFL draft, the competition for the starting job next fall will be fierce. Peters could still play a part, as would McCaffrey, who earned rave reviews last spring and summer for the progress he made.
Milton has won over the coaching staff with his speed, pocket presence and arm, despite only attempting three passes this season. Still, there’s something to be said for having been through a full year of college — from conditioning to spring practices to fall camp, to even playing in actual football games.
McNamara will be starting from scratch. His stats and accolades are impressive (he was an Elite 11 finalist, just like Shea Patterson), but now starts the real work. It could be a year or two before you hear his name again, but it will depend on just how quickly he develops and what transpires before him.
Patterson’s return in 2019 would complicate things. But McNamara is used to that — he came in his freshman year of high school and turned heads, beating out an all-conference returner before going on to start his final three seasons.
He never looked back then, and there’s no reason to believe he will now.