While there was nothing to be happy about for most University of Arkansas football fans following Saturday night's 28-24 home loss to Vanderbilt, perhaps future Razorback offensive lineman Myron McKinney can bring a smile to your face for a minute.
McKinney (6-4, 300), a Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam North star who was one of seven Arkansas commitments for the 2006 signing period, is obviously an impressive physical specimen on the field and already has 20 pancake blocks this season for the state's number one team.
But the personable young man - who was in Fayetteville for Saturday's game - is also blessed with charisma and is going to be one the fans take to and are going to love off the field as well.
Take for instance the fact that the voice mail on his cell phone now says "This is Mister U of A"- in order to let other college coaches know how firm he is about his pledge to the Razorbacks.
"I was sitting around one day thinking about my voice mail ," McKinney said, "and I said ‘you know what? Since I am a Hog, I might as well make it official.' Instead of me trying to tell everybody I think the quickest way for them to know is my voice mail.
"So I came up with the nickname Mister U of A," McKinney continued. "I thought it had a nice touch ot it, it fits me good and I am sticking with it. There is no use for anybody else to be recruiting me. I am a Christian, I am a man of my word and I believe the most valuable thing a man has is his word. That's one thing I have given Arkansas and I won't be taking back."
Of course, that hasn't kept a few from trying like the University of Oklahoma, who had assistant coach Jackie Shipp call McKinney after the Sooners opened the season with a shocking home loss to TCU, who then in turn lost to SMU.
"They gave me a call that very night," McKinney said. "Jackie Shipp - their d-line coach who is recruiting me for the offensive line - said ‘Myron, we know you are committed to Arkansas, but you should keep an open mind and stay in state because we need you.
"I just laughed because the ironic thing about that is they are the same guys who called me an average lineman and told me they didn't think I was good enough to play for them and go to Oklahoma," McKinney continued. "Now that they have decided they see they are in need of offensive lineman, they come running and give me a call."
McKinney said he was cordial, but pointed in his response to Shipp.
"I basically told him ‘hey man, you had your shot and you had me on your hook and you didn't reel me in,'" McKinney related. "'Now I have decided to go with a different caster - and that's the University of Arkansas and I am all about the University of Arkansas. Tell the fans there's nothing to worry about because that is not going to change. I am a Razorback and I will stay a Razorback."
McKinney committed to Arkansas a few days after coming to the Razorbacks' Senior Camp in late July, but when coaches could begin calling on Sept. 1, the phone begin to ring and ring.
"There was Oklahoma, Texas A&M, K-State, OSU (Oklahoma State University) - they all are calling me constantly now," McKinney said. "I thought it would stop once I committed to Arkansas, but it's gotten worser. "
Even though the Razorbacks came up short of victory on Saturday night, McKinney said the fans, the coaches and his future teammates had won him over completely."
"I am just so excited to see the fans and this atmosphere," McKinney said. "It just seems like from all the tailgates that they go crazy about the Hogs. They have already swept me off my feet. Win or lose, I feel great about being a Razorback."
McKinney was hanging out before the game started with buddy and fellow UA offensive line commitment Jim Hart (6-7, 305), a part of a very good start for the Razorbacks to their 2006 recruiting that also includes Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain - the nation's top-rated prep signal caller.
"Jim and I are not going to let anything happen to Mitch," McKinney said. "We are going to protect him like a new born baby."
Putnam North is off to a 2-0 start with a 36-23 season opening win over Edmond North and a 52-13 rout of Putnam City West.
"I graded out at a 96 and I had 12 pancakes against Edmond North and we did really well and threw the ball all day on them,"McKinney said. "We beat Putnam City West 52-13 so I didn't get to play as much. But I still had 8 pancakes and graded out with a 97. "
"We are number one in the state right now in Oklahoma and it's all about consistency," McKinney said. "If we stay consistent we've got a great chance to bring that (state championship) gold ball home."
McKinney's team next faces Edmond Santa Fe, a traditional Oklahoma prep power who roughed up Putnam North last season.
"We owe them a butt-kicking," McKinney said. "If any year is the year, this is the year for that butt-kicking. I am looking forward to next week."
Mister U of A
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