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Name: J.J. McCarthy
Weight: 195 lbs.
High school: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy
Jersey number: #9
Last year: McCarthy was a senior in high school (LINK). He completed 92/165 passes for 1,392 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.
TTB Rating: 89
McCarthy was Michigan’s second commitment in the 2021 class after only offensive lineman Giovanni El-Hadi. McCarthy was a standout player early in his career at La Grange Park (IL) Nazareth Academy before finishing his career at IMG Academy in Florida. The decision to transfer came when football in the state of Illinois came into question during the pandemic.
McCarthy is known as a great leader with a rocket arm and solid mobility. He’s not the biggest or fastest quarterback, but he’s in the range of a lot of mobile quarterbacks who are taking college and NFL quarterbacking by storm. At 6’2″ and 195 lbs., he looks more like Mac Jones (6’2″, 180 in high school), Baker Mayfield (6’1″, 190), Sam Howell (6’0″, 225), etc. than the 6’5″ statue quarterbacks of yesteryear. I think his size, athleticism, and skills match the offense better than anyone Michigan has had since Jake Rudock in 2015.
Will he take over in 2021? That is the huge question. McCarthy graduated in December and participated in spring practice, but Jim Harbaugh came out of the spring naming Cade McNamara the starter. At Big Ten Media Days, Harbaugh reiterated that McNamara was #1, McCarthy was #2, Dan Villari was #3, and transfer newcomer Alan Bowman would slot in there somewhere, depending on how August practice goes.
Right now my guess is that McNamara is truly #1, and Bowman would be the second-best quarterback option to start the year. But I think it’s important for McCarthy to get snaps this season and prepare for the future. He has more upside than McNamara or Bowman, and the offense can be more dynamic with him, since he can push the ball downfield better and he moves better than both. I also think it’s important for the state of the program right now to get a 5-star player to come in and perform like a 5-star, because fans and possibly recruits might be wondering at this point whether Michigan can develop its offensive skill players to the level they should. Shea Patterson, Dylan McCaffrey, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Zach Charbonnet are all recent high-level recruits who have somewhat fizzled during their time in a winged helmet.
Prediction: Backup quarterback
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