It was 779 days ago when highly anticipated freshman J.J. McCarthy made his Michigan football debut. It was Michigan’s 2021 season-opening game against Western Michigan. Coming off of the COVID year, with all kinds of questions surrounding the future of the football program at Michigan, expectations were low. A win of any kind would be seen as an accomplishment.
Despite losing star receiver Ronnie Bell to a season-ending knee injury early in the game, Michigan football took a 27-7 lead into halftime, paving the way for McCarthy to get a chance to showcase what he could do.
The former five-star recruit from La Grange Park Illinois, by way of IMG Academy in Florida, did not disappoint. With Michigan football up 40-7, on a 3rd and 25, McCarthy rolled out of the pocket, broke a tackle, and set up to throw back across the field to Daylen Baldwin (remember that he played for Michigan?) for a 69-yard touchdown. The crowd at Michigan Stadium erupted on a meaningless score like Michigan had just beaten Ohio State in overtime.
The play was incredible, but the reason everyone cheered wasn’t because Michigan football was now up 40 against some in-state group of five schools. It was because J.J. offered a moment of hope to desperate Wolverine fans.
And for once, maybe Michigan could get a QB that delivered on the promise of the potential he brought from high school. Maybe Michigan could be an elite team with an elite player under center.
Flash forward three seasons, two straight wins against our arch-rival that once seemed impossible, back-to-back college football playoff appearances, and 33 wins later, that potential has arrived in full.
On Sunday, J.J. McCarthy became the betting favorite to win the Heisman trophy. While almost no one around the country can find fault with the way he is playing, there is some skepticism over his chances of winning the most prestigious individual award in college football. So, can J.J. McCarthy actually win the Heisman trophy?