Few recruitments in recent Michigan Football history have matched the level of excitement that accompanied JJ McCarthy on his way to Ann Arbor. The 6-4, 200-pound signal-caller arrived on campus as the 3rd highest rated Michigan QB recruit of all time, trailing only Chad Henne ('04) and Ryan Mallet ('07).
During Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis, head coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged that junior quarterback Cade McNamara was at the top of the depth chart heading into fall camp.
"Cade McNamara had a heck of a spring and emerged from spring ball as the starting quarterback, that's how they're listed going into training camp," said Harbaugh. "He's making the other players better, you know? The quarterbacks number one job is to make everybody else around you even better. Cade's doing a fabulous job of that. Also, he's really just taken the leadership reigns and is so accountable of what he does by leading by example - pulling other guys along."
Though McNamara is currently leading the pack, Harbaugh made clear that McCarthy was still very much in the fight.
"JJ has those same exact traits. He's really athletic and really good, we saw him in spring ball. It just does not look like Cade's gonna let that go, ya know? It's not gonna go without a huge fight. It's like watching the biblical iron sharpening iron, that's what it looks like to me watching it. I think that's really good for JJ, I think it's really good for our team, it's really good for Cade - and I think that's going to continue."
As McCarthy prepares to enter his first fall camp, he says he's been extremely impressed with the level of talent at the University of Michigan - particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
“To be honest with you, the offense as a whole," said McCarthy. "It really showed me what it’s like to be at a division one, power five football program with an offense that’s run everywhere. Coach Gattis...his schemes have just been next level. I mean, the receivers...it took me a long time to get adjusted to how fast those guys are. Those guys can fly. The running backs, the o-line, I mean...it’s just been everybody. Everybody has surprised me, everybody has blown me away with my expectations going in.”
When it comes to the wide receivers specifically, McCarthy says all of the guys have been performing at a high level heading into fall camp.
“I’ve been rolling with the two’s a lot - working with Andrel, working with Christian Dixon, Roman Wilson, AJ Henning, Daylen Baldwin who just came in...we had a really good day this morning. All the guys have just been really awesome because they’re in the right spots at the right time, they’re always making the catches that I need them to make and they’re making me look good honestly. Those guys are just ballers, all of them.”
Regardless of how the quarterback battle shakes out during fall camp, McCarthy says he can't wait for his first opportunity to run out of the tunnel at Michigan Stadium as a Wolverine.
“I always visualize when I’m doing my meditations running down the tunnel and hitting that banner. I’m so glad that those stands are going to be packed because a lot of the guys were saying it was just depressing without the best fans in the country there. I mean, it’s really going to be one of those surreal feelings - that every single time you run out of that tunnel it’s going to be a time you’re going to remember forever.”