why did he choose to come back
One of the biggest factors in me coming back is that my teammates and I decided to attack this year and achieve something we’ve never achieved before.
Was a CFP win and national championship a driver for him to come back
It’s on my mind, dang, I can’t go out like this. If I had just one more year, I think I could really attack the spot and there’s no guarantee. It’s very difficult to go out there and win a Big Ten football game. All those tough matches, you can’t take anybody lightly. We know what we do, but we have to work twice as hard at it and work even harder to do things we haven’t done before.
On his first touchdown catch against Ohio State
First of all, in general coming into that game, it’s just a mindset. I was thinking about all the matchups, it all comes down to it. It gets to the point where it is needed. You must beat Ohio State to advance to the championship and advance to the playoffs. It’s just a necessity. That was my mindset coming into the game, coming into that game. It was like third and nine, I think I was coming in from the sideline, maybe I was already in the game, I just remember I was in the rush and I was trying to embrace it. Everyone was yelling and screaming at us, millions of people (watching). JJ showed me my route, we looked at each other and I knew it was coming for me. We were able to connect to that edge and then turned from there. It was a great feeling to be on the sideline, we really needed that for our team. It was a great game that we fought the whole time.
It’s different in a game like Ohio State whether he knows the ball is coming to him.
Yes, but at the same time, you wouldn’t want it any other way. For which you work so hard. Right now, it’s literally March, it’s about to be April, these are the moments where it moves forward and slowly but surely it builds up to those games in late November, late December when it all adds up And it’s all on the line. I wouldn’t want it any other way. You’re right, of course, when you look around you see those big stage games, it kicks a little bit more.
on the untapped potential of being able to spread the defense
It’s something we want to add early and often, whether it’s the first game of the season, by the end of the season, we want to be able to hit all of our shots and have good timing on all of our routes. It really comes down to basic execution and trust, knowing which people are going where and trusting those people. Only by knowing this will they be able to accomplish it. Maybe there have been some different factors last year, it’s something we’re not really focused on. For me, personally, I’m just trying to control what I can control because I can’t think about all these million different things when I know I just have to go my way. Have to take care of that and trust him if I am open, that ball is going to be there.
Taking control of what he can control this spring
Just take each day and just be grateful for the opportunity. Not taking it lightly. Came in and attacked. Pretend like each practice is a tryout or a game or whatever in your mind where you can elevate the situations and not just treat it like oh yeah it’s just a regular march practice or spring practice , It does not matter. When you start getting into that mindset, you start getting mentally messed up. I approach each lift in such a way as to attack it with gusto.
JJ McCarthy on improving last year
I would say maybe a few of those midseason games where we really got down and fought against adversity, he just kept trusting the receivers and kept trusting the line, kept trusting everyone around him. As the season progresses, the matchups become more and more important, more and more difficult to see him come back — maybe we were down a game, maybe he threw an interception Maybe or maybe he has something. Incompleteness here and there but he comes straight back at it, back on the ground and keeps throwing punches to the right and left. It’s something we knew JJ had and we’re going to continue to build on that. Carry that momentum throughout the season. We definitely see a change in seasons one to the other and the goal is to climax at the end.
How will he lead the team this year
For me to be the best leader, I want to show it through my plays but also take the people under me. Say, for example, getting out of practice and going to do some extra work with the quarterback or maybe get a few extra catches or maybe even go out there and get another lift after hours. Bring someone with you. Bring a young man with you. Be like, hey, come with me, we’re gonna get some extra work. Really just drag people along and try to lead by example because that wasn’t in their plans, they were probably trying to get out early or take the easy route. Trying to show them that this is what they need and tell them in these games, that’s what matters at the end of the day. Bring the boys with you. It is not necessary that you like a motivational speech in front of everyone, I have some wise words in my mind that I have to say to everyone. At the same time, it is more about each individual. Some people lead in a different way, even more like a coaching style. I would say try to get close to everyone on a personal level.
What kind of knowledge would he share with a young football player
10, 11 or 12-year-olds, they are at an interesting point in their lives. I would say try to act like you are not 10, 11 or 12 years old. Try pretending you’re already at that high school level. Set that goal for yourself. Even at that stage, you can still set a goal for yourself. Let’s say you want to play varsity in high school or you want to look like that in college, you’re 12, you’re going to eventually start looking at colleges in the future and in high school. It can be a small goal, let’s say you just want to get a touchdown or a catch, that’s all you want. Just imagine that in your mind and every time you might be going through something, be it a difficult exercise or a tough day of homework, just visualize it in your mind and try to get to that goal. Use it as inspiration. After all, it is a manifestation and you will eventually get to that point and keep setting more goals for yourself.
Showing up at DJ Turner’s NFL Combine
I realized this because we’re racing in the summer and everything and this guy was touching 22, 23 mph. We were all like, Dang, we knew he was fast but once he got on the line, that speed is different. That straight-line speed is different. I was so happy to see DJ go in there and pop like that because me and DJ have been working on this, especially me as a receiver and him as a DB, we’re in the same recruiting class And right when we came in, since the first year of camp, it’s always me and DJ going to the perimeter. I’m happy to see him take care of business on that 40-yard dash and the rest of the combine. I’m sure he’s going to get drafted and have a great career.
What her mom shared with her about the Ann Arbor area as a recruiter
I have a lot of people in Detroit, my mom is from Detroit. I feel like half my family is from Detroit. She was just telling me, Michigan felt right for me because it’s a great area, great culture, great football, great people. She was just telling me you’re gonna have fun but make sure you hit the school work. From my mother’s perspective, her focus is always on going to school and getting my degree and just being a good person.
on whether there is any pressure from his mother to go to medical school
It’s crazy because he did it but he probably put it into his head that we’re not really—I have two brothers and neither one of us is on a medical type trajectory. Perhaps he will have grandchildren. Maybe it can come down to that. Me and my brother, we never really got into it for some reason. I don’t know why but somehow it hasn’t really been the case.
on your father’s book
He has written a book that talks about the Black Fives being a forgotten era of basketball and the 1900s in the early 50s, 60s and even now. It all comes down to these different types of pioneers who paved the way. This past month being Black History Month, he went everywhere he went and inspired many people with the book and connected with various basketball events. I try to take some of those lessons into football. Even going back to both my mom and my dad, I can’t write a book or become a doctor, but I still take lessons from them, use their work ethic and I use them for inspiration. If my parents can do it, I can do the same thing. Of course I read my father’s book and try to use it for inspiration.