What You Need to Know About Michigan QB, Joe Milton

Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier - Detroit Free Press

The Michigan Wolverines have supposedly been a QB away from competing with Ohio State since Jim Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor. Life sure is difficult for Jimmy. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to mold all of those incompetent 4/5-star QB’s he lands every recruiting season…

Harbaugh’s latest 4-star quarterback is Joe Milton. If you do any research on Mr. Milton, you will quickly find comparisons to Cam Newton. If the shoe fits, you might as well wear it. Joe is a beast, stretching to 6’5″ and boasting all of 235 pounds.

Ed McCaffrey’s other kid (Christian’s younger brother), Dylan McCaffrey is a 5-star quarterback who spent two seasons at Michigan before transferring this offseason, supposedly because he couldn’t beat out Milton.

Preparing for Joe Milton Ghosts

There’s very limited game film on Milton. He shared backup duties with McCaffrey over the last two seasons, while everyone waited for Shea Patterson to turn into something he wasn’t.

Even the couple-dozen plays he has run, have to be taken with a grain of salt. Milton was in those games for a reason. Michigan was either up or down big and you can only pull so much information out of garbage time, as Minnesota defensive coordinator Joe Rossi talked about today.

What’s on film of him is when he was QB3 and QB2, and there’s been a lot of work that’s been done. So my expectation is, whatever you’ve seen on film of him and his college career, just expect it to be way better. Because he’s older, he’s more mature, he’s been getting the reps, he’s been getting the looks. And when he was in the game before, the game was usually decided. 

Maybe that’s a partial reason of why they didn’t go vertical down the field with him then. But we expect to see everything that they were able to do last year, and then some because we think his skill set is so high. So we expect to see the big throws down the field, a vertical passing game, and he has the element of be able to run it.

He’s a great challenge. He’s a very talented player and our guys are aware of him. Our guys have been told too. We can look at the 30 snaps that he’s had in the last few years, but that isn’t a good indicator of what he’s capable of. We know that he’s capable if you watch his high school film and just see the type of player and how dynamic he was.”

Gopher DC, Joe Rossi, on Joe Milton

We can’t know everything we need to about Milton, from the plays he’s put on film, but we can gather a few things. I’m guessing Rossi feels the same way.


When it comes to chucking the pigskin, we know one thing for sure. Attached to Joe Milton’s right arm, is a rocket launcher. There’s no doubt about how hard or how far Joe can throw. He has a beautiful spiral on his ball too. I’d be hard-pressed to believe he hasn’t busted a couple of WR fingers along the way.

I’ve embedded Milton’s highschool tape at the bottom of this blog. He’s obviously had a rocket-launcher arm since grade school.

Throwing a football hard or far doesn’t make you good at football, though. We need to see what Joe Milton’s decision-making is like, among other things. If he’s willing to throw the ball into coverage like he was as a garbage time backup… the Gophers could have some opportunities for big plays of their own. Joe will also have to prove he handle this offense through a 60-minute football game.

Slippery When Wet

One thing is for sure. When Joe Milton gets in trouble, you can expect him to rely on his legs to slip out and make plays. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching a lot of the Michael Vick 30 for 30 documentary over the last two nights… but that’s who he reminds me of when he starts breaking ankles.

Keeping Milton from getting loose and running into the Gophers’ secondary, will be key to winning this game. I’d rather make Joe prove he can beat you through the air.

PJ Fleck called Joe Milton a “generational talent” and he could be right… depending on what we see from him this season. Let’s remember that everything is bigger and better when PJ talks about it, though.

I know one thing… COVID-willing, we’ll find out what Milton is made of on Saturday night.

Joe Milton High School Tape

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan