Dylan McCaffrey, Ex-Wolverine

Dylan McCaffrey, Ex-Wolverine


September 16, 2020
Dylan McCaffrey (image via CBS Sports)

Angelique Chengelis and Bruce Feldman are both reporting that Michigan quarterback Dylan McCaffrey is opting out of the 2020 season and exploring transfer options, and they’re solid enough reporters that I’m going to go ahead and assume McCaffrey is gone (though no official announcement has been made).

Hit the jump for more.

McCaffrey is entering his fourth year in the program after signing as part of the 2017 class. He redshirted that first year and spent the past two years as the #2 quarterback. He completed 18/35 passes (51.4%) for 242 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions in that time, while also running 23 times for 166 yards (7.2 yards/carry) and 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, a couple injuries (broken collarbone, head injury) have shortened each of his last two seasons.

As discussed repeatedly here, quarterbacks just don’t stick around for four or five years if they’re not The Man. The Man appears to be Joe Milton, even though Milton’s passing and rushing numbers have both been inferior to McCaffrey’s. Milton has reportedly made great strides in the off-season, going from the #3 quarterback spot in 2019 to the #1 spot this year.

This is a rather disappointing development considering the hype for McCaffrey as a recruit. He was a 4-star quarterback and an Army All-American. His father was a standout receiver in the NFL, and his older brother Christian is one of the best running backs currently in the league, if not the best. The hope was that Dylan would follow in their footsteps, but I have questioned how well his skill set fits in with Josh Gattis’s offense. I do believe he possesses the skills to be successful somewhere, but I think he needs a change of scenery.

This departure leaves Milton, redshirt freshman Cade McNamara, and true freshman Dan Villari as the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, with J.J. McCarthy coming in the 2021 class.

One possible landing spot for McCaffrey could be Northern Colorado, an FCS program where Dylan’s dad Ed (head coach) and older brother Max (wide receivers coach) currently work. He also had offers from Colorado, Duke, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, UCLA, and Washington coming out of high school. (Max attended Duke and younger brother Luke currently plays at Nebraska, so there are lots of family connections around the country.)

30 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 16, 2020 at 6:26 PM

    So you think McCaffrey was just beaten out and that’s what happened? Seems like there is more to it than that, unless it’s a recent development in the last couple weeks.

    Anyway, if true, I think that’s a pretty good sign for Milton abilities. McCaffrey never proved to be as good as hyped (par for the course for anyone above a 3-star ranking) but he also seemed like a pretty capable backup with enticing running ability.

    If Milton is beating him out despite being younger, that’s a good thing. It would be the first time a younger player beat out an expected starter in the Harbaugh era, though not the first time an older player has moved down on the depth chart (Peters).

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 16, 2020 at 8:12 PM

      There have been rumors basically since camp started that Milton was looking better than McCaffrey.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 17, 2020 at 11:17 AM

      Makes sense. I heard some of that but was skeptical about it given the situation, but it adds up now. I was thinking DM would have transferred earlier (when the season was cancelled) but the graduation eligibility angle is a factor. If he can hold on to 2 more years of eligibility that is probably more valuable than being a backup in a short season where you are less likely to play.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 3
    Joined: 9/10/2020
    bradD23
    Sep 16, 2020 at 8:43 PM

    I am thinking he goes to Nebraska. He seems more of a runner then passed. Maybe he is fast enough he could transition to WR and become like his Dad. I thought I remember someone saying he was too 5 in the fastest on the team or top 10.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 3
      Joined: 9/10/2020
      bradD23
      Sep 16, 2020 at 8:45 PM

      Passer. Speaking of WR wish Nico would have stayed.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 16, 2020 at 8:49 PM

      I don’t think he would go to Nebraska to beat out his brother Luke at QB. I also think he’s good enough to get a shot at QB somewhere. I think he should be in more of a pro-style offense where he’ll be asked to use his feet less. He should be focusing on improving as a passer rather than zone reads, power reads, etc. (not that Michigan has done much power read).

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 1359
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Sep 16, 2020 at 8:44 PM

    Now’s the time to bring in another transfer at QB…just to see who else minds riding the bench until their 4th or 5th year.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 16, 2020 at 9:13 PM

      Looks like 2020 will be the first time Harbaugh goes into a Michigan season with his own recruit starting at QB. Patience isn’t popular these days but, as a reminder, these are the Harbaugh QB recruits in order from 2016-2020:

      Peters – transfers after getting passed by Milton and McCaffrey
      McCaffrey – transfers after getting passed by Milton
      Milton – 2020 starter
      McNamara – ?
      Villari – ?

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1359
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Sep 17, 2020 at 7:57 AM

        What this boils down to is that Peters and McCaffrey bailed after getting beaten out by guys who still have yet to start (let alone win) a single game at QB for Michigan. All of this so-called “competition” has yielded nothing.

        As far as “patience”, why? Really successful teams are getting championship level performances from guys in their first or second year.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6182
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 17, 2020 at 11:45 AM

          Do you mean successful programs like Alabama, Clemson, and LSU who took years to get right?

          Or do you mean successful QBs like Burrow, Haskins, and Murry who did the same. All of those guys didn’t become successful starters until their 3rd, 4th, or even 5th seasons out of high school.

          I know we’d all love to have Trevor Lawrence, Deshawn Watson, or Tua but let’s not pretend like getting that freshman-ready 5-star is the only path to success.

          Milton is on track. He is not behind. There is nothing to be negative about. We’ll see what he can do in a few short weeks. For now we know he beat out Peters and then he beat out McCaffrey, and he hung in there even when it looked to some like he might have to wait till his senior year to start and was on his way to transferring already.

          Harbaugh might have seen this coming all along given how early Milton played. Everything is speculation until he does it on the field, but there’s really no reason to doubt that he can be good given all available evidence.

          And if he flounders, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harbaugh go back to the transfer market for 2021. That’s not a disaster either. The last 3 Davey O’Brien winners are all transfers. I don’t think we should look down on that. Nor should we look down on guys who take time to develop into elite QBs.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1359
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Sep 17, 2020 at 6:52 PM

            Milton is on track… for what? You have no idea, and neither does anyone else. We’re six years in on Harbaugh, and we’re still crossing our fingers about QB.

            Is there more than one path to championship-level success for quarterbacks? Sure. But Harbaugh hasn’t been able to develop a difference maker along ANY of them.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3785
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Sep 18, 2020 at 7:50 AM

              The vast majority of teams cross their fingers about QB (and lots of other positions) on a regular basis. Maybe there are a few exceptions (Clemson and Ohio State, for example, where every guy just plays awesome), but if you’re not in that elite tier that gets superstar play every single year, there’s anxiety about QB. Brian Kelly has been at Notre Dame for a long time, and I don’t think ND is confident in their QBs, either. It happens.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6182
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 17, 2020 at 8:37 PM

            This is Harbaugh’s 3rd QB recruit and he sent the first 2 packing. On track to be: an all-conference QB who plays in the NFL.

            I agree that we don’t know that he will get there. There are no guarantees in college football. People crossed their fingers about Ty Isaac, Derrick Green, and Kareem Walker too. Stanford football was crossing their fingers about Andrew Luck and then crossing their fingers when he left. Player turnover and uncertainty is permanent reality – all you can do is maximize probabilities.

            Milton’s path thusfar (beating out decent players ahead of him, playing meaningful snaps as a freshman) over the first two years, is where it should be to get to the level we want.

            If you want to see a problem in not beating out Shea Patterson you can, but I’d counter that Milton was always a raw prospect with a high ceiling and the expectation was that it would take time.

            So, On Track. We’ll see if the Milton train stays on them or derails in the next couple months.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 46
    Joined: 1/2/2016
    peterfumo
    Sep 17, 2020 at 6:17 AM

    Count me as one who is saddened by this development as I am not at all sold on Milton based on what I have seen, albeit in limited action. What concerns me with him is accuracy.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 17, 2020 at 7:47 AM

      I agree with the accuracy thing, although that’s reportedly one of the things he’s improved this off-season.

    • JC
      Comments: 303
      Joined: 8/17/2015
      JC
      Sep 17, 2020 at 11:13 AM

      The <50% accuracy in high school scares me.

      From what we saw out of McCaffrey I was excited. His athleticism is off the charts.

      We now have Milton, McNamara, and then Villari who was a break glass in case of emergency prospect. That doesn't look great.

      I'm hoping Milton comes in and crushes it from day one. I'm hoping for good accuracy, good touch, good awareness, the whole shibang. Only time will tell, and I'll keep my fingers crossed until then!

      • gobluetwo
        Comments: 52
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        gobluetwo
        Sep 17, 2020 at 12:39 PM

        “off the charts” is a bit of an exaggeration, but he did seem to have plus athleticism for the position. Not sure what to think going into this season – whatever that will actually look like – given Milton’s relative lack of experience, but we gotta roll with what we got. Let’s hope he comes out confident and doesn’t let the inevitable mistakes and adjustment period discourage him. I think folks always were intrigued by Milton’s potential, if not his polish, so let’s see what he brings to the table (as if we had a choice).

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6182
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 17, 2020 at 2:11 PM

          Indeed. Usually people get very excited about a rocket arm. But accuracy questions seem legit. We all knew Milton would take time. The time is now to find out how far he has come.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3785
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Sep 17, 2020 at 12:56 PM

        On the plus side, with only three quarterbacks…at least it’s only an 8/9 game season!

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6182
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 17, 2020 at 2:13 PM

          Let’s hope Milton stays healthy and out of quarantine.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 17, 2020 at 11:47 AM

      I share this concern, for any and all QBs. McCaffrey wasn’t exactly Drew Brees either.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 4
    Joined: 7/12/2018
    GoBlue2105
    Sep 17, 2020 at 11:35 AM

    Seems I may be alone here, but I don’t recall seeing too much from McCaffrey in his limited playing time to excite me. He was too quick to tuck it and run; he’s been injury prone and I also think he lacked necessary touch on what little passes we did see. What’s more concerning here may be lack of development? We’ve seen this before with multiple players/positions. I hope milton is the answer for the sake of my sanity. Any news on how mcnamara has looked? For some reason I’m a bit more excited about him. Not sure why. #goblue

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 17, 2020 at 11:59 AM

      I am going to go ahead and guess that a lot of people will prefer McNamara to Milton without being able to explain clearly why.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 17, 2020 at 12:59 PM

      McCaffrey didn’t do great, but he did better than Milton.

      McNamara has supposedly looked pretty good. Not that I put too much faith in rumors, but word was trickling out that McNamara has had days where he looked better than McCaffrey.

  6. Avatar
    Comments: 12
    Joined: 4/11/2017
    Shiban
    Sep 17, 2020 at 1:21 PM

    Thunder, why do you think that McCaffery would opt out even though he could still stay and play this season with no downside in terms of eligibility? He is still enrolled in school anyway. He is now actively foregoing a season of college football during which to get better. From the outside, it seems like an irrational decision.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 17, 2020 at 2:18 PM

      Wouldn’t he lose a year of eligibility by playing? I think there is downside to losing a competition (in terms of pride and perception) and I think there is downside to probably at some point getting COVID or at least increasing the odds for.

      As far as training goes – he can still do a lot of that with the resources and connections his family has. Training vs practicing may not be all that different if he is sitting on the bench on Saturdays. And keep in mind with the short season we are just talking about the next 3 months.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 17, 2020 at 2:21 PM

      It seems like if he’s not playing for Michigan, he could more easily prepare to play for his next stop (let’s just say it’s Colorado because that’s where his family is). He could get in touch with Colorado’s coaching staff, start to learn the playbook, etc. And if the Pac-12 ends up playing in the spring, then he could potentially be there by January and be their starting QB, or at least compete for the spot.

      If he plays a season of football at Michigan as a backup, he’s not going to be ready to step in for Colorado in January and would potentially take two (shortened) seasons’ worth of beatings, going from one school’s season to the next school’s season. I talked up the idea of spring football because there would be three months off in between, but this Big Ten season could run straight into the beginning of the Pac-12’s season.

  7. Avatar
    Comments: 15
    Joined: 6/19/2020
    Blue
    Sep 17, 2020 at 4:36 PM

    I am not enthused. Milton looked to be slower, less accurate, and a worse decision-maker than McCaffrey in the limited time we saw from them last year. Harbaugh hasn’t made a good decision about the starting QB since Rudock, so forgive me if I don’t trust his judgment here.

    I hope McCaffrey stays.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3785
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 18, 2020 at 7:48 AM

      “Harbaugh hasn’t made a good decision about the starting QB since Rudock” is a bit mystifying. Can you clarify? Should someone else have been starting over Shea Patterson in 2018 and 2019?

  8. Avatar
    Comments: 1332
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Sep 18, 2020 at 7:35 AM

    Speaking of guys going and coming, I liked the photo of Jalen Mayfield blocking on whatshisname on this morning’s Michigan Insider site. He has what looks to be both hands in the guy’s facemask.

    Looks like he has that hand placement thing worked out in his mind. Pretty tough to find your Qb when they’re stuck staring at their kneecaps.

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