Joe Milton vs. Cade McNamara: Jim Harbaugh avoids naming Michigan’s starting quarterback

Michigan kicks off season at Minnesota this weekend

Joe Milton (left) and Cade McNamara (right) (Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Joe Milton or Cade McNamara: Who will start at quarterback for Michigan football this weekend? Jim Harbaugh avoided making it official ahead of the opener vs. Minnesota.

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“Joe’s been running with the 1s and really, he’s made a lot of strides, getting a lot of reps, as well as Cade McNamara, who’s closed all gaps, as well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s playing extremely well.”

Most people around the program expect Milton to be Michigan’s starter. Not only was he an ultra-talented four-star recruit, he has also been at Michigan for an extra year.

McNamara, a redshirt freshman, is also a former four-star recruit.

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“Jim, just to clarify, are you saying Joe is going to start at quarterback on Saturday?” Harbaugh was asked during Monday’s press conference.

“As I said, Joe’s been running with the 1s,” Harbaugh said. “As I said before, I mean, naming any starter at this point -- it’s a daily thing right up until the game time. Tough for me to say that definitely anybody’s going to be starting when they have to test on Friday before we leave to be able to make the trip, and then they have to test negative on game day to be able to play.”

It sounds like Milton still has a leg up on McNamara, even though Harbaugh won’t quite go as far as to name him the starter.

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Michigan ended last season with Dylan McCaffrey as the backup to Shea Patterson, but McCaffrey was reportedly behind Milton in what was believed to be a two-man race for the starting job. He has since entered the transfer portal with two years of eligibility remaining.

From the outside, McNamara hasn’t been considered a serious contender for the starting job, but Harbaugh has surprised fans at the quarterback position before. Wilton Speight was not considered the frontrunner for the job heading into 2016, but he beat out Houston transfer John O’Korn.

Fans might not officially know their new starter until kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Minneapolis, when No. 18 Michigan battles No. 21 Minnesota.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.