Greg Holcomb still remembers the moment he realized J.J. McCarthy was special.
Holcomb is the founder of Next Level Athletix Quarterback Training in Illinois. There's a drill he uses, which he copied from watching Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, that applies pressure from the backside and forces the quarterback to roll out. Then there's more pressure, which means the quarterback has to run parallel without generating any downhill momentum.
Over a year ago, Holcomb ran this drill with McCarthy — a freshman at the time — in a group setting with juniors and seniors.
McCarthy promptly ripped an 18-yard pass on a comeback route — the type of throw no one else in attendance could make.
"I remember just going, ‘Wow,' " Holcomb told the Free Press on Saturday. "It’s one of those 'a-ha' moments where you go, 'That’s not normal for a ninth-grader.' I remember watching that and being like, ‘We’re watching something that’s just different.’ "
McCarthy verbally committed to Michigan on Saturday night, capping off a prodigious rise. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound prospect is widely considered one of the best quarterbacks in the 2021 class; 247Sports, the only recruiting site to have rankings for McCarthy's class so far, rated him as the No. 19 overall recruit in the nation and the No. 2 quarterback.
If McCarthy's ranking holds, he would be the top-rated quarterback signed by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the highest-ranked quarterback to come from the Midwest based on the 247Sports Composite rankings, which stretch back to 2000.