There won’t be any wait-and-see this year when it comes to where Snohomish County’s top-rated senior football prospect is going to further his path on the gridiron.
Archbishop Murphy’s Josh McCarron, a three-star defensive end/outside linebacker recruit ranked 12th in the state overall by 247sports, announced on April 21 he’ll play football at the University of Virginia.
“The coaching staff there is unbelievable and they’ve done such an amazing job showing how much of a family they are,” said McCarron, The Herald’s 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. “I just love Virginia.”
McCarron wreaked havoc from his defensive end position while helping lead an impressively stout Archbishop Murphy defense as a junior in 2019. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound pass rusher totaled 21 sacks and 30 tackles for loss for the Wildcats, who made the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
The 17-year-old defensive standout said he will play outside linebacker in the Cavaliers’ 3-4 defensive scheme when he arrives on campus in Charlottesville, Virginia.
McCarron said he’s never played linebacker before but is going to embrace the challenge.
“I don’t think there is a better teacher for me anywhere in the country to help me learn a position,” McCarron said of Kelly Poppinga, Virginia’s co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach. “He was showing me guys who were just like me playing defensive end in high school — never took a snap at outside linebacker — that turned into future first- and second-round picks over their careers at UVA.”
The Archbishop Murphy standout chose Virginia over offers from several other NCAA Division-I programs. The list includes California, Boise State, Washington State, Northwestern and Virginia Tech.
Earlier in the recruiting process, McCarron said he was very close to committing to California.
“They kind of stopped recruiting me,” McCarron said. “I think that both Wazzu and Cal thought I was a lock. But Virginia never stopped recruiting me and they made it evident that as soon as I step on campus, there’s a plan for me.”
McCarron said he and his parents had a Zoom call with Virginia coaches and academic advisors and that his mom was tearing up during the call. That sealed the deal.
“I told her, ‘I think I know where I want to go to school,’” McCarron said. “Yes, it is 2,700 miles away, but she agreed that that’s the best place for me. If it truly is the best opportunity for me, then location and distance is not going to be a problem.”
McCarron said he plans to study business while in college.
Getting the recruiting process done early was important for McCarron, who has lofty expectations for his high school squad this season.
“I wanted to know where I was going to school because — and I know you’re probably going to hear this from every single high school player you talk to — but I think it’s our year,” he said. “I genuinely believe that. We’ve got some amazing athletes. Our coach has done a great job with the game plan and everything. And I think it would be unfair to my team if I was still focused on something else and if my mind wasn’t completely on playing with them and giving one last hurrah before I hang up my high school cleats and move on.”