By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
As August quickly turns into September and the summer rapidly dwindles away, Dennis McCarthy gets a little more excited.
It’s not as if the North Arlington resident is not a fan of the summer months, it’s just that September means his favorite time of year – the return of high school football.
You see, McCarthy is the premier surveyor of high school football talent in New Jersey. For the last 23 years, the McCarthy Report – compiled with precise detail by McCarthy and his son David – has been the must get for major college football recruiters.
Plain and simple, if the recruiters want to know who to look for in New Jersey high school football, they need to look no further than the McCarthy Report.
Mind you, unlike many of the new-fangled tout sites found on the Internet, the Mc- Carthy Report is not provided to the general public. Its subscription list consists of only the top colleges in the country and no one else.
The McCarthy Report for the Class of 2014 almost didn’t take place. “The NCAA wanted to put us out of business,” said McCarthy, who works out of his North Arlington home.
“The NCAA wanted to clamp down on the big sites, because they were making money on recruiting. I think I’m just a little schmuck. They wanted us to change the subscription price with everyone. What it’s done is eliminated the small schools, because let’s face it, the smaller schools can’t afford to pay what a school like Ohio State pays.”
So it means that there are fewer NCAA Division II and Division III schools that subscribe to the McCarthy Report.
Because of the restrictions, McCarthy has decided to give their list of top New Jersey athletes, ranked from 101 to 200, to schools at no cost. The only list that continues to be via subscription is the Top 100.
“We want to help the smaller schools that have been good to us,” said McCarthy, who has already received permission from the NCAA to continue through next season. McCarthy is ecstatic over the current crop of seniors that will grace local high school football fields this season.
“It’s as good of a group that we’ve ever had, if not better,” McCarthy said. “We should have at least 83 Division I signings this year. The goal is 85, which is a complete Division I roster.”
McCarthy said that New Jersey has a good group of offensive linemen and wide receivers among the current senior class. Last season, there was a drop-off among defensive linemen, but not anymore.
“I don’t think there’s one position that is better than another,” McCarthy said. “We have talent throughout. Maybe at kicker and punter, we’re a little down. But that’s it.”
McCarthy believes that there are 500 or so high school football players in New Jersey who could play on the collegiate level.
“I think there are 220 or so who are solid college prospects who could receive scholarships,” McCarthy said. “But you never know for sure. I love this group we have this year. It’s a solid group.”
McCarthy seems to believe that New Jersey is just doing a better job of producing college football prospects.
“I think eight or 10 years ago, Don Bosco Prep helped to put New Jersey football on the national map,” McCarthy said. “Others have followed suit. It’s become a gusher. The advancement of our top programs into the national spotlight has really helped the whole group. You also have other factors like FieldTurf facilities, running tracks and lights. You have better weight training facilities. What a big difference that has made.”
McCarthy also believes that athletes taking the time to better themselves at sports training facilities and speed schools have also been beneficial.
“Our athletes have become advanced over the years,” McCarthy said. “The development of athletes has been tremendous. Anything that can aid a youngster to become more athletic is a plus.”
McCarthy said his job as a talent evaluator has changed over the years because of the advances in technology.
“I used to travel all over to videotape players,” McCarthy said. “Now, they all have highlight videos on the Internet, so I don’t have to film anymore. I don’t have to travel the long distances anymore. Ninety-nine of our 100 have film on the Internet. That’s big news for me. But I’m still able to get out and see kids. All of the kids in the state would love to see themselves get into position to play in the NFL. They all want that chance.”
McCarthy said that there are two real standouts among the local players.
“I like Nick Martin of North Arlington,” McCarthy said. “I think there’s scholarship money to be had for this kid. He has good grades and he’s a good football player. It depends on where he wants to go.”
McCarthy has high grades for Kevin Momnohin of Queen of Peace as well.
“What a player he is,” Mc- Carthy raved. “He would be rated among our next group (of 101 to 200).”
McCarthy is all set for his 24th full season as a college football talent evaluator.
“I love it,” McCarthy said. “I’m going to do this until I die. I love being with the kids. Each year, it’s a new group and that’s exciting. Sometimes, we do miss a kid. I’m going to make mistakes. But more often than not, we have the kid listed.”
And the Class of 2014’s No. 1 prospect?
Well, it’s none other than Jabril Peppers of Paramus Catholic, who has already declared his intentions to head to the University of Michigan. Some picks even Stevie Wonder could see.
However, the McCarthy Report is dead on target with the rest of its Top 100. And if all indications are right, then it should be an excellent fall of high school football in the state.