In that state title victory over the reigning D-IV champions, Versailles High School, McCarthy ran for a score, threw for one, and returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown.
"Even after last year I felt that I was underrated, and I went to the Penn State Nike camp and I put up some good times and had a good performance there, and that's really when schools started to take notice," McCarthy said. "All throughout my senior year, the MAC schools had an interest and they all offered, and as the year went on some of the bigger schools started to come in and talk about offers.
"As we kept winning, I continued to play a little bit better each game, and after we won state I think that was an exclamation point on our season as a team and personally as a player trying to get recruited and get noticed by some of the bigger schools."
McCarthy was unable to attend the Nike Camp at Ohio State because he was involved in Mooney's baseball program and they were at their annual spring break tournament in Myrtle Beach at that time. But he was able to fit in the combine at Penn State and, without any real preparation, he turned in a solid performance there.
"I found out that I didn't have a game the day of the Penn State one and so I went to the Penn State Nike camp and put up some good times there," said McCarthy who ran a 4.47 second 40-yard dash, had a 34-inch vertical and posted an incredible 4.09-second shuttle time. "I wasn't training at all for that, I was playing baseball, so that might of hurt my times. But I felt in the individual sessions that I more than held my own against some of the country's top recruits there. And ever since then I knew that I could play at the highest level and I still continue to carry that confidence."
Those kind of numbers that he posted at the Nike camp, especially the shuttle time, are a pretty good indication that McCarthy has the ability to play cornerback at a big time program and excel at the position at the next level.
"A lot of people think that being a white skilled position player that maybe I can't move as well but I think that drill really shows that you can turn your hips and put your foot in the ground and go," he said. "That 4.09 second time just shows that I can play defensive back or corner at the Big Ten level or even higher than that."
The multi-talented signal caller and defensive back for the Cardinals gave up basketball after his sophomore season but he will continue to play baseball this spring. McCarthy roams centerfield and pitches for Mooney and he has been a starter on the team since his sophomore campaign.
"I played basketball up until my sophomore year and then I really started to take notice that my future was probably going to be in football," McCarthy said. "But I'm still going to play baseball for Cardinal Mooney this year, we've got a pretty good team and maybe we can make a run at state. And I usually play summer ball but this year I decided that I'm not going to play summer ball. I'm just going to work harder over the summer toward wherever I'm going in football, and hopefully go into camp at the top of my game and in tip-top shape."
So where exactly is McCarthy going to continue his football career? His stock continues to rise on almost a daily basis as more schools are now talking to him about an offer. Ohio State is the first of the big-time programs to make McCarthy an offer and he's really happy about that.
"Ohio State offered first from the big schools and I look at that as kind of like maybe they want me the most so that's going to maybe help me with my decision," McCarthy said. "Coach Hazell stopped by the school and I happened to have a tape there. He saw it and he liked it and he showed it to the staff. Coach Tressel told me that I was a guy that they didn't want to pass on being an Ohio kid and all that."
McCarthy will venture to Ohio State on an official visit this weekend and he's really excited about it. It's the first time, literally, that he'll step foot on the campus.
"You know, unfortunately, I've never been to an Ohio State game and I've never been on campus, and I've got family in Columbus," he said. "But I'm just going to go on the visit not really knowing what to expect but I am expecting to be impressed. Yeah I really think that I'm going to be impressed. But I'm just going to see how I fit in at Ohio State and go from there."
No matter how impressed McCarthy thinks he might be on his visit, it's not likely that he'll give a verbal commitment to Ohio State on his visit. But it's not out of the realm of possibility either.
"I don't know if I'm going to make a decision while I'm down there, I really don't," he said. "I'm going to need to consider being there for the next four or five years of my life and it's going to be tough to decide that for certain in two days. (Ohio State) really hadn't recruited me until after my senior year so I didn't have all the time in the world, especially just to go to Columbus for fun. I'm sure if they were recruiting me that I would have definitely taken a trip down to Columbus."
Better late than never, however, as far as McCarthy is concerned. Being from Youngstown and Cardinal Mooney specifically, McCarthy knows all about the legend of Jim Tressel from his time at Youngstown State. Mooney's home field, after all, is where the Penguins play their home games.
"I've talked to Coach Tressel on the phone a couple of times now and he seems like a real great guy, down to earth, and someone that I'd like to spend time with for the next four or five years," McCarthy said. "So that's definitely helped me out with him being there. It's made it a lot easier. And being the guy he is and the character that he has, it's really helped me out and made me become more interested in Ohio State."
It's like a dream come true in a way for McCarthy and his official visit this weekend is his first real taste of the big-time.
"I always dreamed of playing football at this kind of level and now it's kind of becoming a reality," he said. "I expect that I'm going to get some chills looking at that stadium and knowing that I have an opportunity to play there some day. I just know that I'm going to be impressed with their facilities and, more importantly, the people around the program."
It's all happened so fast for McCarthy who was actually considering a possible football career at an Ivy League school going into his senior season. But it's a whole new world out there for McCarthy now.
"Coach Tressel called me before Christmas break and he told me that Ohio State is really interested. Coach Hazell told him about me but he hadn't had a chance to see my film yet," McCarthy said. "And on Jan. 2, the first day after the non-contact period, Coach Tressel called me and said that their staff saw my tape that morning and they all said nothing but good things and he said that they ordered him to offer me. And he said that he felt like I was a guy that they couldn't pass up. The (telephone) call was from him and that meant a lot. I knew that it was a serious offer and it was 100 percent true.
"I was definitely really excited and really impressed and I just continue to be impressed with the whole staff and Ohio State."
And despite all of the negative press that Ohio State received at the Alamo Bowl and even with the resignation of Andy Geiger since then, it's nothing that really concerns McCarthy.
"It's definitely in the back of my mind and I hope to get some of those answers when I go there this weekend but I'm not too worried about it," he said. "I did see (Wednesday) that the AD stepped down and I expect to get some answers this weekend about that, but no I'm not real worried about it."
Many people have said all along that McCarthy, with a 3.75 GPA and a 25 on his ACT, would go to Notre Dame in a minute if they were to make him an offer. But they haven't made him an offer yet and he said he wouldn't necessarily jump at one even it came now.
"I definitely grew up a Notre Dame fan, but right now Ohio State offered and Notre Dame hasn't and Ohio State is number one," he said. "Even if Notre Dame offers Ohio State is number one. Notre Dame has been in for a home visit, they've called me a couple of times but they haven't offered. Ohio State has. Ohio State wanted me first so I'm just going to take my visit to Ohio State.
"If Notre Dame offers then maybe I'll take a visit there, I probably will, so I can see where I fit in best and that's where I'm going to commit. But in no way is me growing up a Notre Dame fan going to effect my decision. But I'm not going to visit there unless they offer and I'm not going to wait for them whatsoever."
Actually McCarthy is expecting a phone call on Thursday from the Notre Dame brass to see if they will indeed extend an offer.
"Coach Polian said that he's extremely excited about my film, however they haven't got together as a staff yet," McCarthy said. "He said that they're going to do that Thursday and I should expect a phone call Thursday from Coach Weis. So I'll know a lot more then, especially with it being before the weekend so that will help out. But actually I'm not going to really (worry) about it whether they tell me yes or no. I'm just going to focus on Ohio State this week and enjoy the weekend and learn as much as I can about the program."
McCarthy knows where he stands at this point with Ohio State and vice-versa.
"They just kind of told me that they would love to have me and they know where I'm at. I've told them that I've never been there and I'm anxious to see what they have to offer and what kind of people are there and what college life is like up there," he said. "That's what I told them and they told me that they totally understand. So I'm going to make my decision when I know I'm at the place where I want to be and where I fit in the most."
Northwestern and Boston College are two other schools that were around even before Ohio State and he's still considering them at this point. Ohio State, Toledo, Navy, Arizona, Kent State and Akron are the schools that have all offered him.
"I kind of feel that if those other schools don't offer me within the week then they're kind of out of it," McCarthy said. "It's getting late and I'm not planning on being someone's back up plan. BC, Northwestern and Notre Dame have all been recruiting me the whole year so, right now, if one of those schools were to offer then they would probably be in the race."
Wherever he ends up on the collegiate level, McCarthy is likely to play defense and he's fine with that. Ohio State has told him that they're looking at him as a corner.
"I loved playing quarterback, always being involved in the offense, but I know that my future is on defense at these bigger schools and I look forward to that, definitely," he said. "I'm excited about it and I've played there through high school. I've had experience at safety and at corner. So wherever I end up, probably on the defensive side of the ball, I'm going to be excited about it and just work as hard as I can to get playing time."
He had a remarkable game in the state championship on both sides of the ball.
"It was definitely the way to go out, that's for sure," McCarthy said. "It's a memory that my teammates and I are going to hold with us for quite some time. I'm not planning on forgetting about it any time soon."
But now the challenge for McCarthy is playing big time football and excelling there as well, be it at Ohio State or someplace else.
"Everything that's gone on at Ohio State doesn't have too much effect on me because I think Coach Tressel and his staff run a class program," he said. "And being from Ohio, it's one of the greatest football states and every kid playing football kind of dreams about coming out of that tunnel in the Horseshoe, and it just send chills down my back thinking that maybe one day that's going to be me.
"Right now Ohio State is one of my top choices if not the top, and I'm planning on having a great weekend experiencing Ohio State and what it's all about and moving on from there. I have a great opportunity in front of me that most people dream about and I know that and I'm thankful for that."