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QB coach compares Michigan commit J.J. McCarthy to Baker Mayfield and Drew Brees

He can sling it like Brees, and can move like Mayfield

Michigan landed a big time recruit on Saturday, 2021 5-star QB J.J. McCarthy, who is the No. 2 quarterback in his class.

But what kind of quarterback is McCarthy? Is he versatile? Is he stationary? QB coach and founder of Next Level Athletix Quarterback Training Greg Holcomb, who has worked with McCarthy, gave the Detroit Free Press a McCarthy scouting report.

Holcomb’s comments on McCarthy

  • “He’s just an incredibly special, talented kid. We’ve never had anybody like him in the state of Illinois before. He’s going to go down probably as the most prolific high school quarterback in the state of Illinois. I don’t think he’s even tapped the surface of what he really can be, too, which is scary because he just turned 16.”
  • “He was always a natural thrower, and he was pretty accurate. He’s got an uncanny ability to put balls into small windows even when he’s not in the ideal situation. I think that’s just a natural trait that he is, I think it’s just one of those things that puts him in a position to be so highly ranked.”
  • ”He’s got very good instincts to move in the pocket and almost anticipate when things are breaking down. He also has good patience to stay in there and let things develop even when there’s a lot of chaos around him.”
  • “I think he’s walking into a scenario where he’s going to be able to showcase the things that he does really well within their system. I think it’s a plug-and-play kind of thing.”
  • “(Shea’s) a thrower that just has the ability to move well, buy himself time, he moves great in the pocket, and J.J. is kinda the same way. McCarthy reminds me of a guy that throws like (Drew) Brees but moves around like Baker (Mayfield).”


The biggest comment from Holcomb is comparing McCarthy to Drew Brees and Baker Mayfield. Those are major comparisons to give to a 16 year old recruit, but at the same time there’s obviously a lot of reasons he’s a 5-star recruit that warrants big time comparisons. In making those comparisons Holcomb is saying that McCarthy is an accurate passer and can scramble.

Holcomb calling the system a “plug-and-play kind of thing” is indicative of how the Michigan offense is trending under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. Michigan’s ideal quarterback in this new ‘Speed in Space’ era appears to be of the mobile variety, a quarterback that can excel in a read-option attack.

McCarthy has a long way to go and has plenty of room to grow, but such strong praise given to a 2021 recruit in May of 2019 shows that McCarthy has already wowed coaches and scouts aplenty.