Johnny McCrary’s football career has come to an end. The former Commodore quarterback and high school Army All-American has left Mercer, where he transferred after graduating from Vanderbilt this spring.
McCrary was expected to battle for a starting role with the Bears. According to the Macon Telegraph, he’s had a change of plans. Instead, he’ll enroll at Clark Atlanta University, a Historically Black College or University in the heart of Georgia’s capital city. While the Panthers have a football program, McCrary reportedly won’t be a part of it.
The strong armed quarterback arrived in Nashville as one of the highest-rated recruits in program history. He redshirted his first year on campus, then watched his coaching staff turn over when James Franklin departed for Penn State. He threw only three passes in his first game as a Commodore, a 37-7 home rout at the hands of Temple. Two of them were intercepted.
From there, he had highs and lows but struggled to protect the ball and make throws downfield for Derek Mason’s team. It didn’t help he had to deal with a new offensive coordinator — John Donovan, Karl Dorrell, and Andy Ludwig -- every year of his SEC career. In two years as the team’s on-and-off starter, he threw for 2,518 yards in 17 games. He completed 53.4 percent of his passes but had just a 15:20 TD:INT ratio.
Despite his talent, the odds were stacked against McCrary at Vanderbilt. The offensive system to which the team turned failed to maximize his athletic gifts and instead tried to cram a square peg into a round hole. McCrary struggled with his reads and made too many mistakes, leading to Kyle Shurmur’s ascension to the top spot on the depth chart.
Still, the 6’4 passer looked like he would be a monster against FCS programs. He threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns against Austin Peay last fall and had a five touchdown performance against a transitioning Old Dominion team in 2014. Now he’s decided football is no longer his game; we wish him all the best as he moves on to the next step in his life.