Former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara to transfer into Iowa football program

Rumors of the graduate transfer’s interest in Iowa began to surface earlier this week.


Jerod Ringwald

Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara throws a pass during the Big Ten Championship game between No. 13 Iowa and No. 2 Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. McNamara threw for 16 completions on 24 attempts. The Wolverines became Big Ten Champions after defeating the Hawkeyes, 42-3.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Iowa football has added a new quarterback to its 2023 roster.

Former Michigan QB Cade McNamara is transferring to Iowa with two years of collegiate eligibility remaining. He made his decision public on social media Thursday evening.

Rumors of McNamara’s interest in Iowa surfaced Monday afternoon — shortly after his intent to enter the transfer portal became public.

McNamara was Michigan’s starter in 2021, throwing for 2,470 yards, 15 touchdowns, and four interceptions in 14 games. His efforts helped the Wolverines earn a berth in last year’s College Football Playoff.

McNamara went 16-of-24 for 169 yards and a touchdown in the Wolverines’ 42-3 win over the Hawkeyes in the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

McNamara was benched in favor of J.J. McCarthy — a former five-star recruit — at the beginning of the 2022 season. After he served as McCarthy’s backup for a few weeks, McNamara underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee.

After the November procedure, performed by Neal ElAttrache, McNamara provided an injury update via Instagram.

“Turns out, I have been dealing with a serious injury since the middle of last season,” McNamara wrote. “Then, after suffering another serious knee injury this season, my goal was to get back on the field as soon as possible. Sadly, I was unable to heal properly, but thanks to Dr. ElAttrache, he was able to help me determine exactly what I needed to do to come back the best version of myself. What lies ahead is a lot of work and rehab, but I will come back better than ever!”

McNamara will take over an Iowa offense that ranked outside the top 120 in a number of major categories like passing, rushing, scoring, and total offense. The Hawkeyes also ranked 12th in the Big Ten Conference in sacks allowed in 2022 with 37.

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has yet to announce if he will make any changes to his offensive staff. Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz — Kirk Ferentz’s son — was heavily criticized by fans and reporters for much of Iowa’s 2022 campaign.

Spencer Petras, who has been Iowa’s starting quarterback for the last three seasons, still has one year of collegiate eligibility remaining because of the NCAA’s temporary COVID-19 rules. Petras could also choose to transfer now that McNamara has committed to the Hawkeyes.

Petras threw for 1,725 yards, five touchdowns, and five interceptions in 12 starts this season.  Petras has never thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single season. He has completed 56.7 percent of the passes he’s thrown as a Hawkeye for 5,199 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions.

Backup quarterback Alex Padilla entered the transfer portal on Tuesday. He had served as Petras’ backup since 2020.

One of the Hawkeyes’ top receivers in 2021 also entered the transfer portal this week. Sophomore wideout Keagan Johnson announced he was leaving Iowa Thursday afternoon. Johnson played just two games in 2022, as he was hampered by a number of injuries for much of the year. Johnson caught 18 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns last season.

Hawkeye Athletics and Kirk Ferentz have yet to release any information or statements on McNamara’s move to Iowa.