There is a long time until he can sign with a school, but we may have a Big Ten showdown for 2021 signal caller J.J. McCarthy.
The rising junior quarterback is starting to get serious hype as a prospect. While he doesn’t have ratings from every recruiting site yet, 247Sports‘ in-house rankings have him as a four-star player.
He’s the No. 19 overall player in the country, and No. 2 among pro-style QBs, which means he could have a fifth star in his future as well. McCarthy is also the top player in Illinois.
It sounds like he may stay relatively local for college, based on how things are going right now.
A number of analysts see Michigan as J.J. McCarthy’s leader, but the Wolverines may get a run from Northwestern.
He spoke to WolverinesWire about the two programs, and it is the academics that set them apart.
He’s currently focused on Michigan and Northwestern, as academics are key in his opinion. The quarterback is still deciding between engineering and business for his undergraduate degree.
“The coaches have been great at each school,” McCarthy told WolverinesWire. “I love both head coaches and the direction of their programs. Education is insane at both schools.”
In a recent Chicago Tribune profile, he raved about the two competing coaches—Jim Harbaugh and Pat Fitzgerald—as well.
“Asked which coaches have left an impression, he begins with Pat Fitzgerald, saying: ‘He is such a cool guy, such a family man and has been awesome, especially to my mom and dad. He is trying to build a powerhouse, which I love. I love his staff and his players, and it’s going to be an exciting year for them.’
‘You never know what you will get out of (Harbaugh),’ he says. ‘He doesn’t let the quarterbacks eat chicken because they are weak birds. I thought that was funny because I’m not a big fan of chicken. I like steak.’
Harbaugh’s visit to Nazareth got canceled by the polar vortex. But McCarthy visited Ann Arbor last month for the Wolverines’ open spring practice and says he was impressed by how Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback, interacted with his passers.
‘And they’re in South Africa right now,’ McCarthy says of the team trip. ‘That is so cool.’”
10 recruiting analysts have logged their predictions over at 247, and all 10 have him ending up a Wolverine. He’d follow a strong string of blue-chip quarterback recruits, in Dylan McCaffrey (2017), Joe Milton (2018), Cade McNamara (2019), and JD Johnson (2020). Toss in Ole Miss transfer and current starter Shea Patterson, and Harbaugh has done a great job of adding talent to the quarterback room. Now, he needs the results to follow.