The Wolverine

June-July 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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42 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2020 BY EJ HOLLAND J .J. McCarthy might be a little crazy. Seriously. On a normal Tuesday before the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down, the four-star, Ri- vals100 Michigan quarterback commit from La Grange Park, Ill., just outside of Chicago, would wake up at 5 a.m. and run to school. He then proceeds to do a cardio workout, go to class, hit the weight room, pick up his sister and work at his part-time job. If that's not enough, the 6-2, 195-pounder would then train with a private quar- terback trainer from 9:30-11 p.m. Somewhere in there, McCarthy also finds time to finish up home- work and get prepared to travel the country with his club seven-on-seven team, Midwest Boom, which took part in the Pylon Las Vegas mega event in February and was gearing up to play at Adidas Nationals before COVID-19 said otherwise. McCarthy's daily routine, in tweet form, of course, went a little viral with more than 500 likes. Pat Coogan, a three-star offensive lineman at Chicago Marist who is actually committed to rival Notre Dame, was one of several fellow re- cruits that took notice. "I saw you posted J.J.'s scheduled yesterday," Coogan said. "That's re- ally insane." The non-stop schedule also im- presses, but doesn't concern, McCar- thy's parents. "No, no," Jim McCarthy said. "He's cut differently. My wife and I shake our heads all the time. We're never going to tell him no. We just tell him, 'When it's time to clean your room, it's time to clean your room.' That's for sure." Unfortunately for the McCarthy family, keeping tidy is probably the last thing on J.J.'s mind. The cliché "he lives and breathes football" is overused. Dull. Outdated. But for McCarthy, it truly holds weight. A lot of weight. It's hard to find a recruit in any class over the last several years that works harder and is as dedicated than McCarthy. Little known fact — McCarthy was actually an elite youth hockey player. Once torn between two sports, he passed on a chance to travel the globe on the ice and instead decided to completely zero in on football. Once he made that call, McCarthy became, well, a bit obsessed with be- ing the best on the field. "His work ethic is unbelievable," private quarterback coach Greg Hol- comb said. "He's arguably the top quarterback in the class, but he has the ability to consistently keep learn- ing. He's not one of those guys that feels like he's reached his peak be- cause of his ranking. He's constantly asking questions. He's very cerebral. "He's just a hard worker. His char- acter is top notch. He's a guy that you wish everyone was like. He's easy to coach because he just wants it more than the average kid." Way more. Going into his junior season, Mc- Carthy couldn't wait for individual meetings with Nazareth Academy head coach Tim Racki. Instead, the player who is currently ranked as's No. 33 overall prospect nationally marched to his office with a list of areas for improvement. "For a kid that has as many acco- lades as he does, he understands he can still be better, which really stands out," Racki said. "When kids are the big guy in high school, they kind of lose that. J.J. always wants to get better. He met with me last year before I even called him in, and he had a checklist of things he wanted to get better at. "He wanted to be more patient in the pocket. He did a lot of running around as a sophomore. He wanted to be better at reading defenses. He really wanted to study defenses and tenden- cies. He applied that and made a jump from sophomore to junior year." And now McCarthy will embrace a new challenge. The four-star pros- pect recently announced his transfer from Nazareth Academy to national powerhouse IMG Academy in Bra- denton, Fla. "Due to the uncertainty of fall sports in the state of Illinois, I will be finishing my education at IMG Acad- emy in Bradenton, Florida, beginning the summer of 2020," he posted on social media. "I want to thank ev- eryone at Nazareth Academy for the past three years. In my three years at Nazareth, I've been to three state championships." As a senior, McCarthy hopes to take the next step in his development under the watchful eye of a staff lit- tered with former NFL players. It is home to some of the best high school coaches in the country as well as top of the line facilities, where college and NFL players spend time training in the offseason. While IMG Academy, who finished in the top 10 nationally for the fifth straight season last fall, offers more of a spotlight for McCarthy to show off his talent, his work ethic will re- main the same. Remember those way-to-early morning workouts mentioned earlier? McCarthy goes through a usual se- ries of cardio and endurance drills, but then ends it with a "mental challenge."   FOOTBALL RECRUITING J.J. McCarthy Is The Hardest-Working Recruit In America lists McCarthy as a four-star talent, and the nation's No. 5 pro-style quar- terback and No. 33 overall recruit — and those are his lowest rankings from one of the three major recruiting services. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND

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