For David McCarthy there is no offseason.
With a growing list of combines, college camps and 7-on-7 tournaments to fill up the spring and summer months, putting together the annual McCarthy Report, which profiles and scouts New Jersey’s top high school football prospects, has truly become a year-round endeavor for the Lyndhurst resident.
The McCarthy Report, which covers exclusive New Jersey prospects, has subscribers from more than 60 NCAA programs over all levels of college football.
“It helps me in the offseason. I’m able to get a lot more evaluations done earlier in the offseason,” said McCarthy about the scouting service his late father, Dennis, a longtime North Arlington resident, started in 1991. “Basically, the months of March, April, May with the combines, 7-on-7s and camps, I’m as busy during March, April and May as I am during the season.”
A big reason for the busier spring months is a full resumption of activities for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Combined with a full regular season and playoffs last fall, McCarthy and his staff that includes his brother Ryan, Mike Voza and former Hackensack and Rutgers standout Cedric Brown, have a much larger sample of information to make their evaluations off of than the past two years.
“This is the first normal offseason we’ve had in two or three years and that just makes the scouting a lot easier,” McCarthy said. “There were plenty of camps and combines to see the kids this offseason. Plus 2021 was a full season so there was plenty of tape on kids too. The previous year before, there wasn’t a ton of tape on kids and that’s a big part of the evaluation.”
On a yearly basis, New Jersey ranks among the top 10 states in the country for producing high school football talent and according to McCarthy, this year is no exception.
“It’s definitely a better than average year for New Jersey,” said McCarthy. “There’s a lot of scholarship quarterbacks and cornerbacks, and I like the receivers as well. It’s particularly strong in those three position groups.”
While the depth at the skill players on the perimeter is strong this season, at the top of this year’s rankings are a pair of Bergen County linemen. McCarthy calls Don Bosco Prep offensive tackle Chase Bisontis, a Texas A&M commit, the clear No. 1 prospect in the senior class, with Bergen Catholic defensive tackle Sydir Mitchell, a Texas commit coming in at No. 2.
Two Kearny natives are among McCarthy’s top 50 prospects this year – All-American wrestler Jimmy Mullen, a defensive end at St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, and Jovan George, a defensive tackle at Don Bosco Prep. McCarthy views both of them as prospects more than capable of Division 1 FBS football.
“(Jimmy) is obviously a major-college recruit in both sports and a super-impressive young athlete,” McCarthy said of Mullen, who will be a four-year starter in football and is considered the nation’s top-ranked high school heavyweight by Matscouts. “At defensive end Jimmy is brutally strong and physical at the point of attack and can set the edge against anyone.”
According to McCarthy, George is a “super versatile defensive lineman who lines up all over the defensive front and can play any gap and play any technique. He is a powerfully built disrupter who is very tough to block one-on-one.”
Among seniors at The Observer area schools, McCarthy’s top prospect is Nutley’s Brandon Lucia, a do-everything linebacker who holds a scholarship offer from Marist and has interest from several other Division 1 FCS programs.
“He’s an active and athletic outside linebacker who makes plays all over the field,” McCarthy said of Lucias, who he has among the state’s top 125 prospects. “He’s a very instinctive ball player who has a nose for the football.”
McCarthy’s second-ranked prospect among area schools is North Arlington QB Devin Rivas, who is coming off of a record-setting junior season with 2,230 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns. On Rivas, McCarthy says he is “a gunslinger who is the perfect spread quarterback.”
Another top-level wrestling prospect, Lyndhurst defensive back Damian Weaver is third on McCarthy’s list and is a “sticky cover guy who can hit and make plays.”
Bloomfield defensive back Zaire LaRue, a “ball-hawking free safety who covers a lot of real estate and makes plays on the ball,” is fourth on McCarthy’s list after intercepting six passes as a junior with another Lyndhurst defender, Dwayne Tucker, a “rugged, high-motor inside linebacker who does a great job of slipping blockers and getting his hat on ball carriers,” rounding out the top five.
McCarthy also cites Belleville’s Ezekial Pina and Eliseo Polanco, as well as Harrison’s Ethan Oeckel as other local prospects to watch in the senior class.
The print version of The McCarthy Report is only available to college coaches and recruiters, but David does offer recruiting information and his insight on players across the state on Twitter @mccarthy_report as well as old games films from the company’s archive dating back to 1994 that are available for download.
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)