Regardless of whether or not Jim Harbaugh is roaming the Michigan sideline in 2021, one thing is absolutely crystal clear: JJ McCarthy shouldn’t be.
One of the biggest and most puzzling issues for the Michigan football program over the last six years has been the complete lack of quarterback development and the absence of a clear No. 1 guy. Given all of his experience both playing and coaching the position, it was expected that Harbaugh would quickly solve the QB issues that had plagued Ann Arbor long before his arrival. That hasn’t happened. Instead, Harbaugh has had eight different starting quarterbacks in six seasons, along with three quarterbacks who have transferred in and three quarterbacks who have transferred out.
As a result, nearly every Michigan fan has been counting down the days until McCarthy’s arrival on campus — and for good reason.
McCarthy is the highest-rated quarterback the Wolverines have had in the last 13 years. He’s also the third highest rated Michigan quarterback recruit of all time. While his physical abilities are likely enough to win him the job by the time fall camp rolls around, his leadership abilities are what will almost certainly elevate him to the top of the depth chart.
If you’ve followed McCarthy’s high school career closely, his on-field talent is obvious. At 6-3, 195 pounds, McCarthy is a threat in the pocket that can also extend plays with his legs, making him extremely difficult to defend. While his mobility and arm strength are impressive, his accuracy is elite. Whether standing in the pocket or on the run, McCarthy has the ability to thread the needle all over the field with deadly precision — a concept that likely seems foreign to most Michigan fans.
While the physical abilities are great, what truly sets McCarthy apart is his poise and his leadership. There’s no question who the leader is when McCarthy is on the field. He’s the ultimate competitor who embraces the challenge of leading a group of men to victory. He doesn’t get rattled, the moment is never too big for him and he’s proven time and time again that he can make the right decisions when it counts the most. When his team is struggling and needs a vocal leader, McCarthy is the guy they look to — and he delivers.
Yes, McCarthy possesses all of the physical abilities you look for in a quarterback. More importantly, he provides the type of leadership abilities that have been obviously missing in Ann Arbor for far too long. McCarthy is the team guy, he’s the culture guy, he’s the guy that people buy into and he’s the guy that elevates the play of those around him.
In short, he’s the guy.
McCarthy presents one of those rare opportunities that Michigan simply can’t afford to squander.