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Nazareth’s JJ McCarthy leads the list of the Chicago area’s top 10 quarterbacks

Three Big Ten recruits, including one of the nation’s top 20 juniors, highlight the list.

JJ McCarthy (2) of Nazareth throws a short pass against Marist.
JJ McCarthy (2) of Nazareth throws a short pass against Marist.
Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times

Three Big Ten recruits, including one of the nation’s top 20 juniors, highlight the list of the area’s top quarterbacks. Also back are three players who started in state championship games last fall.

1. JJ McCarthy, Nazareth, Jr. (6-2, 180)

The five-star prospect committed to Michigan after getting more than 30 offers, including eight from the SEC). McCarthy completed 72 percent of his passes for 3,289 yards and 36 touchdowns in leading the Roadrunners to the Class 7A title last season.

2. Athan Kaliakmanis, Antioch, Jr. (6-4, 190)

The four-star prospect is committed to Minnesota along with his brother and top receiver, Dino. Athan set program single-season records last fall for passing yards (2,083) and passing touchdowns (26), He also ran for 578 yards and 11 TDs.

3. Sam Jackson, Naperville Central, Jr. (5-11, 170)

After playing quarterback at Bolingbrook as a freshman, Jackson changed schools and positions last fall when he lined up at receiver for the Redhawks. With Payton Thorne off to Michigan State, Jackson is back at quarterback. Like Athan Kaliakmanis, he’s a four-star prospect committed to Minnesota.

4. Jaden McGill, Oak Park-River Forest, Jr. (6-0, 180)

Look for McGill to break out in his second year as a starter for the Huskies. Known more for his running and improvisational skills a year ago, McGill has worked to improve his passing. He has an offer from Toledo and figures to gain more recruiting interest this fall.

5. Trayvon Rudolph, Crete-Monee, St. (5-11, 160)

Rudolph did a little bit of everything last year for the Class 6A runners-up. Splitting time between quarterback and wide receiver, he completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,315 yards and 12 TDs, ran for 660 yards and 13 TDs, and caught 14 passes for 127 yards and two scores. He has four MAC offers.

6. Dontrell Jackson Jr., Marist, So. (5-11, 183)

The son of Thornton coach Dontrell Jackson Sr. is ready to step in for the RedHawks after the graduation of Mike Markett. Despite his lack of varsity experience, the dual-threat quarterback already has an offer from Illinois.

7. Sam Tumilty, Willowbrook, Sr. (5-8, 156)

Don’t be fooled by Tumilty’s size. He was one of the area’s most productive players last fall, passing for 2,530 yards and rushing for 1,270 more as the Warriors won their first 11 games and reached the Class 7A quarterfinals. He was a Class 7A all-stater.

8. Kyler Brown, St. Charles North, Sr. (6-2, 175)

When his older brother Peyton went down with a season-ending injury last fall, Kyler stepped in and led the North Stars to a berth in the Class 7A state final. He completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,770 yards and 17 touchdowns.

9. Drew Cassens, Downers Grove North, Sr. (6-3, 195)

Like Tumilty, Cassens is a dual-threat quarterback from the western suburbs who earned Class 7A all-state honors last season. He ran for 1,200 yards and passed for 500 more.

10. Perrion McClinton, Loyola, Jr. (6-3, 185)

After playing on both sides of the ball earlier in his career, McClinton is ready to step into the starting quarterback job for the defending Class 8A champs. The versatile athlete also played varsity basketball last winter.