Michigan started off 2021 hot by landing the No. 2 quarterback in the nation in Nazareth Academy (IL) 5-star J.J. McCarthy. This commitment was big news in the recruiting world, since landing a blue chip quarterback like that can have a huge impact on the program.
Last season, McCarthy definitely affected his high school team, leading them to a 13-1 record on the season and a state championship. Along the way, he threw for 3,448 yards and 39 touchdowns at a 76% completion rate.
McCarthy is clearly advanced for only being a high school sophomore. He displays some amazing traits on his highlight film that warrant his lofty ranking. One of these traits is his accuracy, which allows him to place the ball wherever he wants, like in this play below
McCarthy lofts the ball to the point where it’s out of reach to the defensive back, but his receiver can still make the grab.
He also displays this accuracy when he’s on the run, which seems to happen a lot in his highlights.
Again, McCarthy keeps the ball high so it can’t be tipped by the defender, but the receiver can still extend and get the ball. This is a small window to hit, and McCarthy nails it, while also running for his life.
This helps speak to his comfortableness in the pocket, which I thought was an excellent trait. His poise and footwork allows him to evade pressure and maintain composure when he’s about to get hit while making a throw. Watch McCarthy climb the pocket like a pro and fire a touchdown pass in the play below.
This is just beautiful stuff. He sees the defensive ends both turning the corner and collapsing the pocket, so McCarthy calmly steps up and throws the ball 45 yards on a dime to the receiver.
He does something similar in another play, where he gets pressure from his right. McCarthy doesn’t seem alarmed at all, calmly taking a few steps backward and throwing another 45-yard touchdown pass down the sideline.
Sometimes, his comfortableness with his playmaking ability can lead to some risks that may better be suited as throwaways at the next level, like the play below.
While the throw ended up being caught, sidearm jump throws usually aren’t a good idea and won’t be worth the risk in college.
Other than some gun-slinging, there aren’t too many other quibbles with McCarthy’s game. One that I have seen is size, which will need to be bulked up before he can handle the rigors of Big Ten football. He’s listed as 6-foot-2, 180 pounds right now, but is still only a sophomore in high school and will have at least two more seasons and probably a redshirt year before he’ll even see the field.
For some, it could be more of a when, not if, situation with regards to McCarthy starting for the Wolverines. His footwork, pocket presence, and accuracy make for a technically advanced prospect who should only continue to develop his skills. Throw in his recruiting efforts, and he could be a game-changing recruit.