Michigan football: Can J.J. McCarthy pull upset to win Wolverines quarterback job?

The starting quarterback job for the Michigan football program is up for grabs. Incoming five-star J.J. McCarthy has an outside shot to win the Wolverines’ highly-anticipated quarterback battle.

With Joe Milton leaving the Michigan football program, there is uncertainty regarding who will be the Wolverines’ starting quarterback for 2021. It may seem like a shot in the dark, but there is a halfway decent chance it could go to true freshman five-star J.J. McCarthy.

According to the 247Sports Composite, McCarthy is the No. 2 pro-style passer for 2021 and the No. 24 overall prospect in his recruiting class. The La Grange Park, Illinois native played his senior season at the IMG Academy down in Bradenton, Florida. He will battle incumbent junior Cade McNamara and Texas Tech graduate transfer Alan Bowman for the starting job this offseason.

Though Bowman has the most significant starting experience of the three, he was the least coveted recruit coming out of high school. He also has to learn a new offensive system along with McCarthy this offseason. This will be McNamara’s third season playing for Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor. While it may come down to Bowman or McNamara, let’s not sleep on McCarthy just yet.

J.J. McCarthy is the future of the Michigan football program

Even if McCarthy is a dark horse contender to win the starting job, he is the only five-star of the group. McNamara was a four-star recruit in 2019 out of Reno, Nevada, while Bowman was only a three-star recruit out of Grapevine, Texas in 2018. Overall upside and untapped potential give McCarthy at least some level of intrigue heading into spring practice. Can he win the starting job?

If he does, we are not going to know until the tail-end of fall camp. McNamara has battled for every opportunity he has received the last two years at Michigan, so expect him to put forth a strong effort against any challenger he faces. You also cannot overlook Bowman’s ample starting experience at the Power 5 level over at Texas Tech. That will give him an edge to compete as well.

Besides talent, the biggest thing McCarthy has in his favor is the Wolverines have not had a truly dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position since Harbaugh arrived back at his alma mater in 2015. If it becomes abundantly clear he is the guy down the line, then the future has to be now. If Michigan ever wants to beat Ohio State again, they have to be significantly better at quarterback.

If all things are equal in mid-to-late August, then Harbaugh must go with McCarthy over Bowman and McNamara, strictly on upside. McNamara has been a backup before at Michigan and Bowman will only be in his first year with Michigan after transferring over from Texas Tech. For it to not be McCarthy, either Bowman or McNamara have to be resoundingly better than him this offseason.

Eventually, McCarthy will become the starting quarterback for this Michigan football program.

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