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Jim Harbaugh opens up on Cade McNamara, his 'huge' impact on Michigan program

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham07/28/23


Michigan Wolverines 2023 Record Prediction Jim Harbaugh, Blake Corum, Jj Mccarthy

Cade McNamara, though he is now an Iowa quarterback, will always hold a special place in Michigan football lore. That much Jim Harbaugh is sure of.

From entering a road game against Rutgers trailing by 17 in the 2020 season to leading Michigan to a Big Ten title and the College Football Playoff a year later, McNamara helped lead the Wolverines into a new age of success. And for that he will always be remembered.

“We go back a long way. And there’s somebody that went into a game in 2020, we were down 17 points and just started bringing us back right from the minute he went in the game. Got a big hit right before halftime and then you saw, saw the gravel in the gut that he had and brought our team back for an overtime win. And then took off from there,” Harbaugh said. “Beat Ohio State, won the Big Ten championship. He’s one of those great Michigan men. Now he’s a Hawkeye, but the love doesn’t change.”

Michigan’s 2020 season went awry quickly after a rousing victory on the road against Minnesota to start the season. Trailing Rutgers on the road, things appeared headed toward a nadir of the Harbaugh era. But McNamara clawed back, leading Michigan to a victory in double overtime.

From there, it was his team. Michigan completed an 11-1 regular season in 2021, beating Ohio State in Ann Arbor to head to the Big Ten Championship Game. There, McNamara led Michigan to a first conference title in nearly two decades, locking up a first-ever CFP berth for the Wolverines.

The overall impact he had on the Michigan program is hard to overstate, and one Harbaugh won’t soon forget.

“Huge. There’s a great love for Cade. I’m pulling hard for Cade, praying for Cade. Tells me he’s in a great place and things are going great for him. There with Erick All. Another favorite, another beloved son, Cade, to all of us,” Harbaugh said.

McNamara helped mold Michigan’s current quarterback, J.J. McCarthy

Harbaugh explained that McNamara had a massive positive impact on J.J. McCarthy during their time together.

“So many great ways,” Jim Harbaugh said. “I remember being here last year at this time, going into this training camp with two players that were starter caliber. And I love the way they competed. It was never combative.”

Entering the 2022 season, many people expected McCarthy to take over from McNamara. However, Harbaugh made him earn that role in a competition that went into the season. Along the way, McNamara acted as a phenomenal mentor to McCarthy.

“J.J. saw everything in the way Cade would compete and grind. He wasn’t there — my most memorable moment with Cade was the 2020 game, we’re at Rutgers, we’re down 17 points and he went into the game. And it was just like the spark, throwing the ball with no conscience and just playing free,” Harbaugh said.

“And from that moment on that was the player he was. I remember he got a big hit right before halftime, too. And then just gravel in his gut went out there. Love Cade and certainly J.J. was in the same quarterback room and saw all those same attributes. It was tremendous.”