Chicago QB attracting national attention. Can Big Ten keep him close to home?

Chicago-area sophomore J.J. McCarthy is weighing 33 offers. Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune

J.J. McCarthy is the only five-star recruit from Illinois in his class. Where he winds up will be a big deal.

In this lull between spring football and the onslaught of conference media-day hype, followed by fall camp, I found this story intriguing.

Who is J.J. McCarthy and where is he going to end up playing college football?

McCarthy is an uber-hot prospect from suburban Chicago. Illinois’ only five-star recruit in the class of 2021, he already has offers from 33 schools

My friend Teddy Greenstein did a very nice piece on McCarthy. Check it out here. On the day he went out to see this phenom, three Power Five program representatives were on hand: Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck; Iowa State recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh and Tennessee quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke, who won the 2000 Heisman Trophy at Florida State.

Where’s the Big Ten? Working as hard as it can.

Michigan, considered the frontrunner for McCarthy, is one of seven Big Ten schools that have offered him a scholarship. Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State are the others. I would guess that the remaining Big Ten schools haven’t offered because McCarthy was out of their league, so to speak.

What really interests me is whether a stud QB can be lured out of the Big Ten. I would guess not. But that would be a loud statement.

What also interests me is the thought of seeing this young man play college football in a few years. Which is, after all, one of the many reasons we love college football.

I’ve never been one to get all wrapped up in recruiting. That’s probably because recruiting is not as big a deal at the schools I follow the closest—Illinois, Northwestern and even Wisconsin—as it is at places like Michigan and Ohio State and other national powers.

There are exceptions, of course. The anticipation of Ron Dayne carrying the ball at Wisconsin was one. That worked out pretty well. He struck the pose. . . And then there was the hype surrounding the recruits Mike Locksley brought to Illinois from Washington, D.C. Guys like Arrelious Benn and Vontae Davis. Those guys ended smelling Roses.

Point is, this kid McCarthy sure looks like the real deal.

Thanks for the heads-up, Teddy.