Since long before he made his way to Michigan in May 2019, we’ve been talking a lot about five-star QB JJ McCarthy. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are too. The media has spoken about him extensively, locally and nationally.
You know who we haven’t heard talk about the esteemed Michigan signer? Head coach Jim Harbaugh.
While that defies belief, as he can’t publicly comment on recruits until they sign on the dotted line, Wednesday was the first time he could actually speak about his nearly two-year quarterback promise. And on the podcast ‘In the Trenches’ with Jon Jansen, Harbaugh was ecstatic about the IMG Academy gunfighter.
But the first thing he said about him was his leadership and the way he recruited the class around him as if he were a coach on the team.
“JJ’s (had) two years or so that he’s committed to Michigan,” said Harbaugh. “And you talked earlier about the coaches and the great job they’ve done recruiting, but JJ – you have to call him a real leader. Every man in the class – I often ask him, “Who is your favorite player in the class?” JJ’s name is always referred to as one, two or three. And he has done a great job connecting with the class. He has been a real leader. “
OK – so we know about McCarthy off the field, what does Harbaugh see of him as a quarterback? Why was he so difficult to recruit the former Nazareth Academy signal caller?
“He’s a playmaker,” said Harbaugh. “He is a very exciting player – a competitor. The first things I really liked about him, his sophomore year, he was playing in the state championship (with) a broken bone in his left hand. Hockey player – here’s a tough guy! Won a lot of games, was really good at 11v11 football and just kept growing as a player. Very athletic. Throws it extremely well. Just plays with a lot of energy. He’s really good – has that ‘it’ factor. You know, when you get into a group, how important is that for the quarterback to have that. The confidence, the energy. And also a man who makes really good decisions, plays really well and competes. Gives it everything it has. All the necessary qualities for a quarterback. “
Without categorizing McCarthy’s trappings – is he professional style? Can he commit a widespread offense? – Harbaugh praises his versatility, what he can do on the field, his command of a team and how he can go out and play plays when his team needs it most.
“The kind that really has a lot of arm talent,” said Harbaugh. “But he is also very light-footed. Creates plays when a play cannot be made. Maybe protection breaks a bit and there is a free runner at the quarterback. He has the ability to get around it. Has a really good view. Sometimes it seems like he is looking, he has eyes on the back of his mind. And then makes that sharp, sharp throw, finds the open man, moves the chains, takes the team to the end zone. Has the ability to collect people. Simply – has it! Has it where people want to follow him. He’s not one of those big guys on campus where it’s all about him. He comes all out and always talks about his teammates. Just really all good and competitive. There is the word that probably most sums up what you are looking for in a quarterback and JJ has it. “
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