Top high school QB J.J. McCarthy transfers out of state amid COVID-19 shutdown


LA GRANGE PARK, Ill. – When the top-ranked quarterback in Illinois transfers out of state, his competitors don’t lament the loss.

“I think there are 300 schools or more who are not feeling sorry for Nazareth losing J.J. McCarthy,” joked Nazareth Academy head coach Tim Racki.

“I’ve seen some tweets from kids, our rivals saying, Oh! Thank God!” laughed Nazareth Academy lineman Ryan Keeler.

McCarthy, who is widely considered one of the 15 best players in the nation in the 2021 class, tweeted Monday his decision to leave Nazareth for IMG Academy in Florida.

His reason? The uncertainty of fall sports locally.  

“I think for everybody, not just J.J. or myself but the entire team. It’s been on everybody’s mind,” explained Racki. “With that type of uncertainty and those opportunities in front of him its certainly understandable.”

The Michigan recruit led the Roadrunners multiple state title appearances, and the 7A Championship in 2018.

Could his decision trigger a chain reaction of other top prospects leaving the state?

“I just think depends on how their states will handle it,” noted Keeler, who already has offers from over 30 schools. “If Illinois doesn’t have football, I know a lot won’t want to stay in Illinois. They’ll go where they can play.”

“If they are thinking they can get money for college and go to another state to showcase skills, it’s up to the family to do that,” Racki remarked. “I’m not in a position to say it’s going to be great in the fall. Nobody knows.”

On Tuesday, the national high school federation released guidelines for re-starting sports.

No timetable is given for their 3-phased approach, but they list football in the higher risk category.

An uncertain sports landscape, which could lead more players to follow McCarthy’s lead out of state.


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