One of the greatest high school football players the Land of Lincoln has ever seen will not strap up his pads and helmet in Illinois for his senior season. The state’s number one prospect, QB JJ McCarthy of Nazareth, has elected to transfer to National powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for his senior season. McCarthy posted on twitter that his decision was due to “The uncertainty of fall sports in the State of Illinois.” and I’ll be frank I don’t blame him one bit. The state of Illinois & the IHSA have yet to come up with anything close to a definitive plan to play football next fall. Our state officials need to get together and figure what exactly is the next step. McCarthy is the first big-name player to transfer out of state, and if a plan isn’t put in place, I’d be shocked if he’s the last. I’ve heard rumblings of prospects considering playing their senior season in the likes of Indiana, Wisconsin & Iowa.
Illinois high school football’s loss is Florida’s gain. Selfishly, I wish McCarthy would be suiting up in the Roadrunner uniform for one last season. His arm strength, quick release, ability to make things happen, and leadership are second to none. The best part, he’s an even better kid. Every person I’ve spoken to about him had nothing but positive things to say. IMG will be a top 5 team in the country entering next fall and will compete for a National Title. He’ll join Kenwood transfer, BJ Mayes, as fellow prospects from the Windy City. Although it’s a big loss for Nazareth, Head coach Tim Racki and his squad won’t back down. The roadrunners have a very talented team coming back and will still be state title contenders yet again.
McCarthy will always be considered one of the Illinois greats, regardless of where he played his last high school season. He’s earned that right.