As just a sophomore, 2017 Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian four-star quarterback Dylan McCaffery led his team all the way to the state championship game.
Despite the one-point loss on the big stage, McCaffery’s play catapulted him into the spotlight, already securing 10 scholarship offers in his recruiting process from the likes of Colorado, Colorado State, Duke, Missouri, Penn State, Rutgers, UCLA, Virginia, Washington and Michigan.
“Personally, I thought the season went well,” McCaffery said. “It started off a little bit slow. I ended up getting concussed in the second game so I had to miss a week for that.
“Then after that, we kind of got the offense clicking. We started throwing the ball a little bit more, towards the end of the season we were throwing a lot.”
Envisioning himself as a mix between pro style and mobile at the quarterback position, already listed at just shy of 6-foot-5, 195-pounds.
Intrigued by his skill set, the offer from Michigan and Jim Harbaugh came “out of the blue” according to McCaffery, but was one welcomed with great excitement.
“My coach just called me in one day out of class just to talk to coaches,” McCaffery said. “He’s done that every now and then.
“This one was Coach (Jedd) Fisch and Coach Harbaugh, we were just talking some about Michigan and about our football. Then they offered me and I was happy – I was excited.”
Having only visited in-state Colorado, McCaffery made his way out to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit, the first real out of state trip for the young signal caller.
“It was awesome,” he said. “We just started and got to walk around the football facilities, see their weight room and indoor football fields and all that and the locker room, which was cool because that’s where all the work is put it in. It was cool to see.
“You meet a lot of the coaches and I had met a couple but that was a big plus. Got to meet Coach Harbaugh in person, which was great. He’s an awesome guy and they made it entertaining and fun, they showed us around. We then went to see the campus and saw the academically what Michigan is all about.
“It’s such a great school with just great academics, which is really important to me. So that was awesome to see and then we walked and got to see The Big House, which also was awesome.”
Asked what stood out most about his time on campus, McCaffery actually cited the passion Michigan’s fan base seems to have for the program.
“Really just how much people love football out in Ann Arbor,” he said. “We were just walking down the street with Coach Harbaugh and you would see random people honking cars at him, which was really cool, just to see that atmosphere and how much the fans care about football there.”
With ample opportunity to get to know Jim Harbaugh on a more personal level, as well as a coach, McCaffery left impressed.
“The vibe really was…he’s a smart coach,” he said. “He’s great with quarterback, he definitely have that.
“One thing he said that stuck out was he’s going to find a way to win. He’s a coach that knows how to win and he’s going to do everything he can, put players in the right position, just to win.”
Still very early in the process, McCaffery plans to take more visits before listing any schools ahead of one another just yet.
“I haven’t been able to compare and contrast very much,” he said. “I’m just looking to get out there more this summer. We got everything lined up.”
Once serious evaluations actually begin and the time comes for narrowing things down, McCaffery has a strong list of criteria for the school he’ll eventually choose.
“First is probably just the people, the coaches and the players because that’s who you are going to spend four years with,” he said. “That’s a big factor, as well as academics, that’s another big factor.
“Just football, football program itself, do I fit well into the program, I can see myself succeed there. That’s really what I’m looking for.”
McCaffery says distance won’t play a factor in his decision and his older siblings prove that fact to be true with one playing wide receiver at Duke and another a running back at Stanford.
Perhaps an even greater advantage for Michigan is the fact McCaffery actually grew up a fan of the Wolverines, thanks in part to one of the most famous former players currently in the NFL.
“I grew up loving Tom Brady so he kind of went there, so when I was little I kind of just started like Michigan,” he said. “One of our good childhood friends went there to play football, so kind of watched him some and I liked it.”
Former Michigan tight end Steve Watson hails from the same area as McCaffery as well.