Former Michigan starting quarterback Cade McNamara has entered the transfer portal, 247Sports confirmed on Monday. McNamara has two years of eligibility remaining after leading the Wolverines to the Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff berth in the 2021 season.
McNamara took over as starting quarterback at Michigan in 2021 and put together a highly efficient season, completing 64.2% of his passes for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns. He joined Brian Griese as the only signal caller in program history to lead the Wolverines to a 12-win season (1997) and won the first outright Big Ten Championship since Lloyd Carr's 2003 crown.
McNamara, however, was pushed by former five-star recruit J.J. McCarthy across the 2021 season and entered an open quarterback battle in 2022. He started the season opener against Colorado State, but later lost the job to the upstart McCarthy. He played in just three games for Michigan in 2022, completing 56% of his passes.
McNamara has not announced whether he will play for Michigan in the postseason, where the Wolverines are expected to secure their second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance regardless of the outcome in Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game matchup against Purdue. However, if he opts to transfer first, Alan Bowman and Davis Warren will likely split backup reps behind the starter McCarthy. The duo combined to throw 16 pass attempts in 2022; however, Bowman transferred to Michigan with more than 5,000 yards passing to his name during a three-year career at Texas Tech.
More than a 'game manager'
McNamara was one of the top quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school and ranked as the No. 8 pro-style passer in the 247Sports ratings, ahead of names like Zach Calzada, Dillon Gabriel and Kedon Slovis. The Nevada native fielded offers from several of the nation's best programs, including Alabama, Georgia and USC.
McNamara's numbers were never exceptional, but the signal-caller helped guide Michigan's offense during its breakout 2021 campaign. McNamara only threw three interceptions in the regular season and threw multiple touchdown passes against Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State.
Harbaugh decided that McCarthy gave the Wolverines a more dynamic component to their offense, but the overall numbers actually fell with McNamara sidelined. Michigan dropped from 228.7 yards per game passing to 214.6 yards per game, which ranked bottom 30 in the country. McCarthy did deliver with three passes of more than 45 yards during an upset win over Ohio State in Week 13, but McNamara's production still holds up.
Potential landing spots
There's no question that McNamara will have opportunities to play at the highest level if he so chooses. In the Big Ten, Iowa and Purdue rank among programs that should be in the quarterback market. Former Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is now at Miami, and McNamara could bring stability to a flailing Hurricanes program.
If McNamara wants to prioritize playing time, however, several Group of Five teams would love to have his services. Charlotte just hired Michigan assistant Biff Poggi to lead the program and McNamara could quickly become a leader there. Additionally, McNamara's hometown program -- Nevada -- could desperately use a shot of credibility.