Officially the starting QB, Cade McNamara ‘makes people around him better’

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — On Monday at noon, Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed what we all knew: Cade McNamara will be starting for the Wolverines come the first game on Saturday.

“Yes, Cade McNamara is our starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “His constant improvement – he’s really ratcheted it up in a lot of different areas. The biggest one, consistency. Consistency of doing his job, also call it a talent of making everybody else around you better. Maybe that’s the most important job of a quarterback.”

Harbaugh’s confirmation means we finally get to see what McNamara, who had a full spring and summer to earn and hold the job he won at the end of last year, fully brings to the table right out of the gates. We’ve heard throughout fall camp that his demeanor is a serious one, as he remains all about football, even once the cleats are off and he’s long departed the playing field.

But McNamara doesn’t want to be known as strictly about football — he just wants to be known as Harbaugh described him: consistent.

“I’m not gonna be super serious all the time!” McNamara said. “(My teammates) are gonna look at me as a consistent guy. I think the level of seriousness from my position is something that should be expected.”

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While he strives to be a departure from his predecessors, like Shea Patterson, McNamara is an avid golfer, wide receiver Mike Sainristil says. Though he loves to partake in extracurricular competition, truly, football is what matters most.

But competition didn’t allow McNamara to win the starting job in 2020, at least, not until the season started. So how is he different from a year ago, if at all?

“I think my role on the team is specifically what has changed,” McNamara said. “I always wanted to be the starter and last year, after winning the starting job at the end of the season, I never went through an offseason as being the starter. Just basically my role has changed. My job is to be consistent, so I’m just striving to be as consistent as I possibly can.”

McNamara has been described by many of his teammates as a quintessential leader. But what does that mean? How does he go about it?

“I think my leadership style began by example, just because of the position I was in the last two years,” McNamara said. “I feel like my leadership style — demanding more out of my teammates and contributing more with my voice, I wasn’t able to do that as a non-starter. I feel like my position now has really given myself the ability to be myself again. It feels really good.”

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As a third-year player, a redshirt sophomore (with four full years of eligibility remaining, if he’s so inclined), McNamara was not named a team captain — but given that all four of the captains are seniors or senior-plus, it makes sense that he hasn’t earned that distinction yet. Of course, a big part of that also could be that he’s only started one game — though his teammates trust him and seem to rally behind him, while he’s earned the starting job, the next step is earning wins.

That said, Harbaugh is confident in his chosen signal-caller. Like McNamara’s teammates, the head coach praised his leadership, but noted one important detail that perhaps McNamara’s predecessors may have lacked.

“Really locked in. Really knows his assignments. Great work ethic,” Harbaugh said. “Just the unselfishness, I think, is probably the biggest thing. Sticks out about his leadership is his desire to get the ball to playmakers and make people around him better. Move the offense a lot.”

We’ll see just how good McNamara truly is come Saturday when he makes his season debut against Western Michigan.

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