J.J. McCarthy is off to a fast start for the #2 Michigan Wolverines. Could his season end as a Heisman Trophy finalist?
One of the most treasured of college football traditions is the awarding of the Heisman Trophy. While it’s supposed to go to the best college football player, it’s really become a quarterback award.
What’s finally fitting for the University of Michigan, the winningest program in college football is for the Wolverines to have their own quarterback be worthy of Heisman discussion. J.J. McCarthy is that quarterback and he’s starting to make people notice. Let’s just say, McCarthy’s Heisman stock is trending up.
McCarthy, in his junior season from La Grange Park, Illinois, is off to a phenomenal start to the season. He’s the undisputed leader of his 5-0 Michigan football team, which is ranked #2 in the nation and has championship aspirations – both B1G and National.
Why J.J. McCarthy should be a Heisman candidate
McCarthy’s rise was not unexpected. After all, his head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke highly of Michigan’s quarterback this summer, comparing McCarthy to current NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.
"“I think there’s some comparisons to Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen,” Harbaugh said in front of Big Ten Network TV cameras, before going into more detail later with reporters. “He’s got the physical, athletic attributes. And then all the arm talent — accuracy, velocity, decision-making, and intangibles. And he also has what the great ones — in my opinion — have, which is a willingness to do anything for their teammates.”"
McCarthy’s stats might not illicit fanfare-like last season’s Heisman winner, USC’s Caleb Williams, who has thrown for 21 touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. Instead, McCarthy leads a Michigan football team that features another Heisman hopeful in his very own backfield, Blake Corum.
Through five games, McCarthy has completed 79% of his passes for 1,071 yards and 10 touchdowns. And he’s doing this despite only playing about 2.5-3 quarters of the five games so far this season.
His QBR rating of 94.2 ranks first in college football. That’s over Williams and other prominent quarterbacks like Drake Maye of North Carolina, or Washington’s Michael Penix, Jr.
Michigan’s quarterback is flipping the narrative about Michigan Football
Twice, McCarthy’s had completion percentages over 85%. In both games, he threw at least 25 passes. Two other times the Wolverines gunslinger has completed at least 71% of his throws.
The Michigan football QB has thrown a touchdown pass in every game this season and at least two TDs in four of five matchups. McCarthy’s been incredibly accurate, he hasn’t thrown more than six incompletions in any game yet. His three interceptions came in his forgettable performance against Bowling Green.
Corum’s presence, along with Michigan’s other dynamic running back Donovan Edwards, has shifted attention from McCarthy in the past, as has the narrative that Michigan football doesn’t like to throw the football.
This season, the Wolverine quarterback has done his best to flip that script.
If Michigan Football continues to win the way they have this season and JJ McCarthy continues his trend up the charts, the Wolverines might just have a Heisman finalist by season’s end.