Damonte Ranch High product Cade McNamara was not only named Michigan's starting quarterback following spring camp. His new quarterback coach is so bullish on the Reno native, he's forecasting a decade-long career in the NFL.
“Cade is a guy who I think for everything people are going to say to criticize him, he’s a guy that’s going to end up playing 10 years in the NFL because you can say, 'He’s not enough of this, not enough of that,' but at the end of the day he’s really smart, makes great decisions and processes things very fast, and his accuracy and arm strength are more than enough to win with" Michigan's first-year quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss said on the "In the Trenches” podcast with Jon Jansen. “He’s a guy that’s been awesome to work with. He’s extremely valuable to our team. He’s our starter. Love the fact we have him.”
The 6-foot-1 McNamara starred for Damonte Ranch from 2015-2018 and set the state record for career passing yards (12,804) and career passing touchdowns (146). He won the state's Gatorade player of the year award in 2017 and 2018, the first in Nevada history to win in back-to-back seasons.
After redshirting at Michigan in 2019, McNamara got his big break last season. Joe Milton, who has since transferred to Tennessee, began the season as Michigan's starting quarterback. After Milton struggled, McNamara earned his first extensive playing time against Wisconsin and completed 4-of-7 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown in a 49-11 loss.
Coach Jim Harbaugh stuck with Milton to start the next game, at Rutgers, before the Wolverines fell behind 17-0. McNamara was inserted and led Michigan to a come-from-behind 48-42 triple-overtime win. McNamara completed 27-of-36 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns while adding a rushing score, becoming the fourth Michigan quarterback to pass for four touchdowns and rush for another in the same game in the last two decades.
McNamara got his first career start the following week at Penn State but injured his throwing shoulder early on and finished the game 12-of-25 for 91 yards in a 27-17 loss. McNamara exited the game late due to the injury but said it was nothing major. He was working to return to the field, but the team's final three games — against Maryland, Ohio State and Iowa — were canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak. McNamara entered this offseason as the guy to beat for Michigan's starting job.
"As far as the offseason goes, developing my body, developing really everything I can, especially speed as well, but really building that chemistry with the wide receivers again," McNamara told NSN in January of his offseason goals. "I feel like we could take an extra emphasis on that. As far as the whole offseason, we're looking forward to it. We've dealt with the COVID, so we have our ways of getting around it a little bit to adapt the situation and still get the work done that we need to get done."
Michigan recently played its spring game and despite the game being off limits to fans and media, McNamara reportedly earned game MVP honors while leading his blue team past the Maize, 22-10. No stats from the contest were released. McNamara is the only quarterback on Michigan's roster with FBS game experience. His chief competition for the starting job is five-star freshman J.J. McCarthy, who joined the team this spring. Alan Bowman, a transfer from Texas Tech, will join the team in the fall.
Damonte Ranch coach Shawn Durpis said he was proud of the post-high school development McNamara has shown.
"It's great to have a four-year starter like Cade was and put up the numbers that he did and be a leader like he was and elevate his game and continue to push," Dupris said. "I've been asked that question quite a bit, especially since he got to Michigan, and my answer's been the same: Cade is who he is. He believes in himself, he's very confident in himself and he has that ability because he works so hard. If you work as hard as he does and do the things he's done and have success, it doesn't matter what level you go to, you believe in yourself and continue to do things you have to do. He's a film room guy, a weight room guy, an extra guy out there in the mornings and after practice. I know it's hard for some people to believe it, but it doesn't surprise me to see him in the position he's in. I'm very proud of him."
McNamara is entering his third season at Michigan but has four years of eligibility remaining with the Wolverines. McNamara's younger brother, Kyle, is entering his second season as a wide receiver at Western Kentucky. The youngest McNamara brother, Jake, is a junior in high school. A quarterback, he recently received a scholarship offer from Colorado State.