Illinois' top prep football prospect transfers out of state

  • Nazareth quarterback J.J. McCarthy, one of the top recruits in the nation who is headed to Michigan, announced Monday he will play his senior year of high school football at IMG Academy in Florida.

      Nazareth quarterback J.J. McCarthy, one of the top recruits in the nation who is headed to Michigan, announced Monday he will play his senior year of high school football at IMG Academy in Florida. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/18/2020 5:24 PM

J.J. McCarthy's first completion as Nazareth's varsity quarterback was a 40-yard laser, thrown across his body, directly to a tightly covered receiver.

"You just don't see that in high school football," said Nazareth coach Tim Racki.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No longer in Illinois at least.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback, who earned his first Division I scholarship offer before high school and committed to Michigan in May 2019 while still a sophomore, on Monday announced on Twitter he will play his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

The transfer is due to COVID-19 uncertainty, said an understanding Racki.

"He doesn't want to roll the dice," said the former Driscoll coach.

"If there's no high school football in Illinois, how do you get better at football? You've got to play football. It sounds like it's much more promising in Florida than it is in Illinois."

Leading Nazareth to Class 7A title games each of the last two seasons with a 2018 win over St. Charles North, McCarthy passed for more than 6,300 yards with 71 touchdown passes according to MaxPreps.com.

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A four-star recruit by Rivals.com, the Western Springs resident was the No. 1 player in Illinois' Class of 2021 and is rated No. 5 nationally as a prostyle quarterback.

"He's got all the tools," Racki said.

"When he throws the ball it literally fires out of his hand. It's like a shotgun."

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