Cade McNamara, Quarterback

McNamara will enter fall camp as the favorite to win the starting job.  In fact, first-year quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss made clear that the junior quarterback was the starter during an interview a few months back.

"Cade is a guy who — I think for everything that people are going to say to criticize him — is going to end up playing 10 years in the NFL," Weiss said.

"You can say he’s not enough of this or enough of that, but at the end of the day, he’s very smart, he makes great decisions, he processes things very fast and his accuracy and arm strength are more than enough to win with. He’s a guy that’s been awesome to work with. He’s extremely valuable to our team. He’s our starter — [I] love the fact that we have him."

That's certainly high praise from Michigan's quarterbacks coach.  Michigan fans got just a taste of what McNamara is capable of when he relieved a struggling Joe Milton during week five of the 2020 season against Rutgers.  Down 17 points on the road, McNamara led the Wolverines to a triple-overtime comeback win that won him the starting job the following week.  Unfortunately for Michigan fans, McNamara suffered an early injury the following week that essentially ended his 2020 season.  

If McNamara can live up to the high expectation that comes along with being a quarterback at the University of Michigan, he'll become the first Harbaugh quarterback recruit to do so.  Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton have all had a shot at solidifying the QB1 position during their time in Ann Arbor, and all eventually ended up in the transfer portal.  In order for McNamara to avoid a similar fate, he'll need to fend off true freshman JJ McCarthy and veteran Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman.  

With fall camp just weeks away, there's no question that Cade McNamara has plenty to prove heading into the 2021 season.

Daxton Hill, Safety

The epic recruiting battle for Daxton Hill between Michigan and Alabama is likely one that most Michigan fans remember, even if they don't follow recruiting all that closely.  Hill was the top-rated safety in the country and Michigan needed to fend off a perennial national championship contender in order to land him.

Though Hill arrived to Ann Arbor with high expectations, his Michigan career hasn't quite lived up to the hype that surrounded his recruitment.  

During the 2020 season, Hill finished second on the roster with 46 tackles, five total pass breakups and one interception through six games.  While he's certainly established himself as a solid contributor, he's yet to take the next step into becoming a "game-changer".  However, Hill may very well be on the verge of earning that title based on some of the off-season chatter coming out of camp.  By all accounts, Hill has elevated his game and has embraced his new role as a veteran leader within a position group that desperately needs leadership.

When the 2021 season kicks off, Daxton Hill might finally be ready to show the nation why he was such a coveted high school recruit.

Cornelius Johnson, Wide Receiver 

At 6-3, 210 pounds, Cornelius Johnson is the biggest receiver on the Michigan roster.  

Though he wasn't considered an "elite" prospect coming out of high school, his teammates have seen enough to know that Johnson has the potential to become something special at the University of Michigan.  In fact, former teammate Nico Collins believes that Johnson will become WR1 before it's all said and done.

“I love Cornelius (Johnson),” Collins said. “He’s a young guy, he’s still learning. But he’s gonna be a great guy. Later on in the future, he’s gonna be the man. I’m calling it! First one to say it!”

Through his first two seasons in Ann Arbor, Johnson is averaging just 1.1 receptions and 17.5 receiving yards per game.  In order for Johnson to take the next step, his production is going to have to increase dramatically in year three.

Erick All, Tight End

Jim Harbaugh thinks a lot of Erick all, so much so that he once suggested the 6-4, 230-pound tight end could be the best tight end that he's ever coached.  That's saying quite a bit given Harbaugh's coaching history, particularly given the fact that Harbaugh coached Jake Butt at the University of Michigan.  

As a comparison, Butt hauled in 41 receptions for 446 yards and four touchdowns during his first two seasons in Ann Arbor - while All has hauled in just 13 receptions for 92 yards and zero touchdowns through his first two seasons.

If Erick All is as good as Jim Harbaugh claims he is, the 2021 season will prove it.

Aidan Hutchinson, Defensive End

When it comes to Hutchinson, there's no point in going through the statistics, the history, the legacy, and all that's at stake.  No. 97 came back to Michigan with a clear purpose to restore the culture and to take care of some unfinished business - mainly during the final week in November.

He's a leader, he's a captain, he's a dominant force on the football field and one of the top defensive ends in all of college football. 

Put simply, Aidan Hutchinson has a lot to prove in 2021.

This article first appeared on FanNation Wolverine Digest and was syndicated with permission.

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