An important quarterback battle took place in Ann Arbor during spring practice, and it will likely continue into the fall. Michigan is looking to find its permanent No. 1 guy for the 2021 season after watching Joe Milton transfer to Tennessee after last fall.

Returner Cade McNamara and 5-star newcomer J.J. McCarthy are the two quarterbacks expected to be the two competing for the starting spot when the Wolverines kick off the season on Sept. 4 against Western Michigan. When Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman arrives, he’ll be thrown into that conversation, too.

For now, though, it’s McNamara and McCarthy. In a recent episode of the In the Trenches with Jon Jansen podcast, Harbaugh was asked about Michigan’s current quarterback situation. It sounds like there is currently a favorite at the position.

“Not a lot of experience, but Cade just continues to play well,” Harbaugh said. “Continual progress from Cade. He had a great spring. He took what he did last fall in games and continued to build on it on a daily basis. Very confident. Knows the system inside and out.”

McNamara had his best performance of the season in a comeback victory over Rutgers. He stepped in for Milton, who struggled early in the contest. McNamara threw 4 touchdown passes and rushed for 1 more, leading the Wolverines to thrilling victory over the Scarlet Knights.

When the season came to an end, McNamara had thrown for 425 yards and 5 touchdowns while completing 43-of-71 passes. He did not throw an interception.

Harbaugh says that McCarthy also had an outstanding spring and has quickly climbed up the depth chart.

“J.J. was terrific as a mid-year freshman,” Harbaugh said. “Got himself all the way up to No. 2.”

McNamara has the lead for the No. 1 spot right now, but with this battle continuing into the summer and fall, it’ll still be one to keep an eye on when the season approaches.