Jim Harbaugh brushed off a question Thursday about the growing number of quarterbacks to be left Michigan under his leadership, pointing to the ease and popularity of the transfer in the current climate.
Joe Milton was the last Michigan quarterback to enter his name on the NCAA transfer portal earlier this month, joining Dylan McCaffrey as the second player in that position with the intention of leaving this offseason.
Since Harbaugh arrived in Michigan in December 2014, three-quarters that he and his staff recruited from outside high school – Brandon Peters, McCaffrey and now Milton – have either transferred or announced their intention to transfer, while a fourth (Zach Gentry) has completely changed positions.
“A common theme?” Said Harbaugh. “I mean, you can point out – there’s been a trend in college football that way. Players – this is increasing every year – log into the portal. “
Three additional stock quarterbacks – Alex Malzone, Shane Morris and Wilton Speight, none of whom were recruited by Harbaugh or his staff – were also transferred out of the program, which relied on transfers under Harbaugh.
In fact, two of Michigan’s most successful quarterbacks from 2015-2020 were Jake Rudock and Shea Patterson, both transferring.
“Now that it looks like a one-time transfer is definitely within reach – close, anyway – I think it’s something players are investigating and reviewing,” Harbaugh said.
Michigan is far from the only school hampered by transfers. A recent check of the NCAA-provided portal shows hundreds of names of players looking for a new start elsewhere, including more than 50 quarterbacks. McCaffrey announced on February 1 that he plans to transfer to the University of Northern Colorado, where he will play for head coach Ed, his father.
But if there’s one common thread among the Michigan quarterback’s starts, it’s playing time. Peters was beaten for the starting position in 2018 by Patterson, while McCaffrey opted to leave before the fall camp started last year – when he had to compete with Milton for first place.
While Milton went on to win the starting position in 2020, he lost it five games in the shortened season to rookie Cade McNamara.
McNamara, a four-star prospect in Harbaugh’s 2018 recruiting class, is the favorite to win the starting position this fall – especially after Milton’s planned departure. But he should also be challenged by newcomer JJ McCarthy, a freshman who has achieved five-star consensus status from major recruiting services.
“JJ is doing extremely well – and I could tell, really, (about the others),” Harbaugh said. “It was awesome – the mid-years.”
Learn more about Michigan football: