ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Dylan McCaffrey joined Michigan as a freshman in the summer of 2017, and redshirted his first year with the program. Now, he’ll factor into the quarterback competition as spring practices begin Friday for the Wolverines.
McCaffrey joins Shea Patterson, Brandon Peters and Joe Milton in Michigan’s stable of quarterbacks. Michigan may not decide on a starting quarterback for 2018 during the course of spring practices. Yet the next few weeks will give some definition as to who could take the lead in the competition.
McCaffrey worked primarily with the scout team offense in 2017 as a true freshman, and didn’t get any in-game reps. Few anticipate that he will leapfrog past Michigan’s seasoned quarterbacks to become Michigan’s starter for 2018. That’s not a knock against McCaffrey, either.
Here’s what McCaffrey needs to do this fall, to prepare for the starting job:
Experience-wise, McCaffrey falls behind Patterson and Peters. McCaffrey could, however, move into position to compete for the starting job if the NCAA rules that Patterson is ineligible for the 2018 season following his transfer from Mississippi.
If the NCAA rules that Patterson is eligible to compete in the fall, long-term development will be the focus for McCaffrey. Barring any injuries to upperclassmen who are quarterbacks, true freshmen traditionally don’t get any game action during their first season at Michigan. True freshman quarterbacks at Michigan typically take the first year with the program to gain weight, learn the playbook and get acclimated to college football and college life.
McCaffrey is on that track. He will be in a stronger position in 2019 to become Michigan’s starting quarterback.
However, McCaffrey’s progress in his first year of college football pleases Michigan passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton, who praised his ability to grasp concepts and his cerebral nature. Hamilton also praised McCaffrey on how he applied his competitive nature to offseason workouts.
“He pushed our guys to work past their comfort zone,” Hamilton told The Michigan Insider. “As expected, with most players, you see the biggest jump, physically, going into their second season. This is truly his first offseason with our strength staff, so you can see his body changing, and he’s gaining more confidence as well.
“He grew mentally over the course of last season, just having an opportunity to sit in meetings and be a part of that game-planning process. And watching the guys that played quarterback last year getting ready to play.”
McCaffrey is doing the right things to become a college quarterback. The questions now are: Where will he fit in, and when will he play? Hamilton said he, the coaching staff and McCaffrey will find out soon.
“Actually going out and having the opportunity to throw routes with the starters, the starting receivers and the starting tight ends, and competing against our first defense in practice, it’s going to be a true tell of where he is,” Hamilton said.