February 9, 2011

Coach: Extra work in classroom paved McGill's path

In December, it seemed that ultra-athletic defensive tackle Ty McGill was headed for an FCS program or junior college. The 6-foot-1, 275-pound prospect was good enough to play at college football's highest level but he was projected as a non-qualifier and FBS offers had yet to materialize.

However, McGill, who also plays basketball and competes with the track team, worked all fall semester to improve his test scores, taking an SAT prep course and the hard work paid off when FBS teams began to start knocking on the door around Christmas.

"He raised his test score and has done an outstanding job with that," Jesup (Ga.) Wayne County coach Jody Grooms said. "Around Christmas, his recruitment really picked up from a lot of people. It started off with Southern Conference schools and, before you knew it, the ACC was knocking on the door with Georgia Tech, Miami and NC State."

With coach Jim Bridge leading the charge for the Wolfpack, Grooms was not surprised that the youngster chose to continue his career in Raleigh. In fact, Bridge nearly scored a clean sweep at Wayne County by securing commitments from McGill and prep teammate Tre Jackson, but the offensive lineman eventually signed with Florida State.

"I guess [the deciding factor] was Coach Bridge," Grooms said. "He is an outstanding recruiter and we had one kid sign with Florida State and Coach Bridge nearly got him, too. I think it was just [Ty's] relationship with Bridge and [Bridge's] attitude and effort. When he decides he's coming after a kid, he does a really good job of recruiting."

It wasn't easy for McGill to improve his test scores as much as he did, but Grooms said that simply showed that the youngster was going to do whatever it took in order for a chance at his dream.

"It was the kid's senior year and he was essentially taking an extra literature course," Grooms said. "He made a commitment to get it done in the classroom. He did everything that we asked of him [on the field] and, more importantly, he came a million miles in the classroom. He proved that he was willing to do what it took to be successful."

McGill earning the test scores in the classroom was the only missing piece to a three-sport star that Grooms compared favorably to one of his most famous products at Anson County High, Georgia offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant. Sturdivant won the North Carolina Gatorade Football Player of the Year award during the 2006-07 season while playing for Grooms and went on to protect star quarterback Matthew Stafford's blind side as a freshman. The left tackle was the first UGA rookie to start at the position since 1989.

"I had Trinton several years ago and we had [Tre] this year who played alongside Ty, but I haven't had a kid who is 6-1, 275 pounds and can run a legitimate sub-4.8 40. I've never had anyone quite like that so he does kind of separate himself with his athleticism."

The big man finished his senior year with 47 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, six sacks, four forced fumble, two recovered fumbles and three touchdowns while lining up as a hole-clearing fullback. McGill was a two-way starter for his sophomore and junior year at Wayne County, but focused almost exclusively on wrecking havoc from the defensive line during Grooms' first year at the school. His leadership, hustle and willingness to do whatever was asked of him make McGill a coach's dream.

"He's a big athlete," Grooms reported. "He's explosive, he's got a good first step. He really does an exception job of rushing the passer but the biggest thing is his hustle. He'll run plays down from behind the line of scrimmage or he'll make a tackle 20 or 30 yards downfield. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played, and that's always at full speed.

"Everyone on campus enjoys being around him, our kids gravitate towards him and that's another thing that separates him from a lot of kids. He's not afraid to be a leader, he's not afraid to step out front and he's not afraid to have people follow him.

"He played a big, big leadership role for us. He played in every game. We had some kids miss games due to injuries and so on, but he was there every day. He didn't miss a workout this summer and he also played basketball with a team that traveled throughout the month of June. He kind of sets the bar for everyone else on the team."

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