football Edit

U-M QB Commit JJ McCarthy, Father Open Up On IMG Transfer, Enrolling Early

JJ McCarthy has a new home.

Don’t panic. The 2021 Rivals100 quarterback is still locked in with his commitment to Michigan. However, he will begin a new journey at the high school level this summer.

With the ongoing global pandemic and a cloud of uncertainty around the status of high school football in the state of Illinois this fall, McCarthy decided to make a huge move. He transferred from La Grange Park (Ill.) to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, the No. 1 ranked high school football program in America.

“I transferred because of the whole situation with what’s going on in Illinois right now and the hierarchy of the government,” McCarthy said. “Everything is out of my control. I wanted to focus on what I could control. My decision was the outcome.”

Rivals100 quarterback JJ McCarthy is committed to Michigan Wolverines football recruiting, Jim Harbaugh
Rivals100 quarterback JJ McCarthy is committed to Michigan.

McCarthy didn’t make the decision alone.

When the opportunity presented itself, McCarthy had a discussion with his family, and they came to the conclusion that leaving Chicagoland was best for his future. McCarthy’s father, Jim, was fully onboard with the final verdict.

“It was an unbelievable opportunity for him,” Jim said. “It makes you stop and think about what this world is going through right now with the pandemic and everything. He has an opportunity to play in a state where he can control his own decisions on playing football. He can get down there and go to college before college. He can play with a new set of competition and challenges for him. He’s always trying to raise his game.

“Obviously, he knows how much we love Nazareth. It’s unfortunate with the state of Illinois and how it is. I was proud of his decision because he’s earned that decision.”

JJ had an excellent career at Nazareth Academy, winning a state title and leading his team back to the championship game last fall. As a junior, JJ passed for 2,820 yards and 34 touchdowns and reaffirmed why he is considered one of the top overall prospects in the nation.

At IMG Academy, McCarthy will team up with fellow Michigan commit Greg Crippen as well as a slew of other top ranked national prospects. IMG is home to elite recruits from all over the country and features top notch facilities and a coaching staff full of NFL experience.

JJ has always pushed himself, and he can’t to play with and against the best — IMG plays a true national schedule.

“I’m very excited,” JJ said. “We’re all focused on one goal and being better and being great. We’re all going to feed off of each other. Iron sharpens iron. That’s big for us. There is going to be a lot of talent, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ve already hit up almost the entire team. It’s just been through text messages and stuff like that.

“I know most of the offensive guys and a few of the defensive guys. They’ve been helping me out and giving me the rundown of how things work out there. It’s been great.”

IMG Academy will also give JJ an opportunity to enroll early at Michigan and compete right away. Expectations for JJ are sky high, so getting to campus in January will benefit him from both a physical and mental development standpoint.

In this day and age, it’s rare to not see a quarterback enroll early at the school of their choice. And JJ is fired up to now be part of the majority.

“It’s huge,” JJ said. “It gives me the opportunity to compete right away at Michigan, and that’s what I want to do. It’s getting closer and closer, but right now, I have the mindset of getting ready for Miami Northwestern. Michigan is more in the back of my head right now.”

Jim is also excited about what enrolling early can do for his son on the academic side.

“At the quarterback position in this country, especially at that level, he probably would have been one of the only ones to not graduate early,” Jim said. “The Top 20 kids are all going to go early. It’s the new norm and makes complete sense. From a parental standpoint, you know your son is going to get a jump-start on his education. He might be able to start a masters degree under scholarship. To us, that means everything.”

JJ will enroll at IMG next month and graduate in December. He will have a short break back at home in the Chicago-area before enrolling early at Michigan and moving to Ann Arbor.

While it will be tough to see JJ leave home indefinitely, Jim couldn’t be more excited about leaving his son with the Michigan coaching staff.

“You hit it on the head with second dads,” Jim said. “Through the recruiting process, you always look at where he’s going to fit and who you’re going to trust to mentor him and keep him growing as a man. For us, it was Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, Coach (Ben) McDaniels and Coach (Sherrone) Moore. We know he is going to be in great hands.”

McCarthy committed to Michigan over offers from Arizona State, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M and several other major programs last May.

At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, McCarthy is ranked as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback and No. 33 overall prospect in the nation, per Rivals.com.

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