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Former Michigan football quarterback named a top-5 QB in the Big Ten

A former Michigan football quarterback, who has since transferred, has been ranked among the top-5 quarterbacks in the Big Ten conference.



Former Michigan football quarterback, Cade McNamara, Jim Harbaugh, JJ McCarthy, Big Ten Media Day
Oct 30, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara (12) looks to pass the ball during the first quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Last year’s Week 1 victory over the Colorado State Rams was the last time that fans saw former Michigan football quarterback Cade McNamara start a game in the Maize and Blue. The following week, JJ McCarthy led the Wolverines to a huge win over Hawaii and stole the starting role. Since then, the Wolverines finished 12-0 in the regular season, beat Ohio State (again), won the Big Ten title (again), and made the College Football Playoff (again). Although they fell short in the Fiesta Bowl, one thing remains clear about the offense: former five-star JJ McCarthy is “the guy” for Michigan.

Recently, USA Today published its post-spring Big Ten quarterback rankings, and newly committed Hawkeye Cade McNamara broke into the top five.

Former Michigan football quarterback breaks top-5 QBs in the Big Ten

Now, don’t get me wrong, Cade McNamara is not a bad quarterback. He led Michigan football to a Big Ten title, a win over Ohio State, the team’s first 12-win season since 1997, and more during his one and only year as the starter in 2021. However, he played on an incredible team with a strong defense, an elite rushing attack, the best offensive line in the nation, and other supporting factors.

Cade McNamara can be frustrating because his performance is heavily dependent on the team around him. Could he lead Iowa to win 9-10 games? It’s possible, considering that Iowa won eight games last year with a struggling offense. But can he carry Iowa to a Big Ten title? Probably not.

During the 2022 season, Cade was replaced fairly early by JJ McCarthy, although he still managed to complete 14 of his 25 passes for 180 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Cade ranks at No. 5 in the USA Today rankings.

Why Top-5? USA Today’s take

Here is what USA Today had to say about their decision to rank Cade McNamara among the top-5 quarterbacks in the Big Ten:

“After helping lead the Wolverines to a Big Ten title in 2021, McNamara was benched in favor of J.J. McCarthy in 2022. He chose to leave for Iowa, a team that needs a lot of help at quarterback. If the offense can get humming along, McNamara should be the catalyst that brings the unit into the 21st Century. He will just have to overcome an offensive coordinator who only has his job due to nepotism.”

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CJ has covered college athletics in paid roles for around five years, including numerous sports and beats. His most recent work revolves largely around Penn State and Michigan football and basketball as a member of the credentialed media at both schools. Right now, CJ writes for Blue by Ninety, where he also serves as the site's credentialed football reporter. He also does some credentialed basketball coverage. Previously, CJ has made stops with sites like GBMWolverine, Saturday Blitz, Steeler Nation, and more.