JJ McCarthy, the state’s top quarterback and the No. 15-ranked recruit in the national Class of 2021, is leaving Nazareth for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“Due to the uncertainty of fall sports [in Illinois] I will be finishing my education at IMG Academy beginning the summer of 2020,” McCarthy announced on Twitter.
McCarthy helped lead the Roadrunners to the Class 7A state title in 2018-19 and second place finishes in Class 7A last season and in 2017-18.
“I want to thank everyone at Nazareth for the past three years,” McCarthy said. “Those state championships will never match the friends and relationships I’ve made with my teammates, coaches, teachers and classmates. Naz will always be my family.”
Nazareth was expected to be one of the state’s top teams again next season. McCarthy is the state’s first highly-regarded player to transfer due to the coronavirus. The status of fall high school sports in the state is currently up in the air. Transferring to IMG, one of the top football programs in the county, should guarantee McCarthy a senior football season.
McCarthy ended his statement with a special shout out to Roadrunners football coach Tim Racki.
“You are more to me than just a coach,” McCarthy said. “You are my mentor and friend for life. You set the example of what great coaches should be. There was never a time you wouldn’t take a phone call, text message or meeting in your office. You always made time for everyone regardless if they played football or not. I will always be your QB.”
McCarthy passed for more than 2,700 yards and 34 touchdowns last season. He was a Sun-Times All-Area selection and is widely considered the area’s best quarterback prospect in recent memory.