The work paid off for McCain as Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and others came calling with scholarship offers. While the Gators were thought to be in the running, McCain tells Inside The Auburn Tigers that it was a two-team race between the Tigers and the Razorbacks.
"To be honest with you I liked Auburn and Arkansas the best," McCain says. "Auburn just, in the end, was out front on paper so to speak. I felt the football program and the academic support and the coaches put it a little bit ahead. On top of that I have always wanted to play there, so there was no question."
McCain runs a route at one of Auburn's summer camps this past June.
At 6-6, 257 pounds, McCain is not your normal high school tight end because of his size. A solid defensive end, he shows good quickness off the ball and has become much quicker since last season. For those reasons he says that most schools offered him as a tight end and not a defensive or offensive lineman. Among those was Auburn.
"Auburn offered me as a tight end and that's what I committed as," McCain says. "That (lack of depth at tight end) is obviously appealing. They have a great one in Cooper Wallace right now and that has been tough on them because he's been nursing an injury. I'll come in next year and he'll be a senior. Hopefully, I'll be able to learn the ropes and get some good work under my belt.
"If everything works out hopefully I can move on from there and take over the position one day. They're a little thin, but that works out for me to have a chance to play and play early."
McCain got a chance to see the Tigers up close and personal earlier this week when he traveled to Auburn to meet with the coaches and take in a practice. Having already been to Fayetteville and Gainesville days earlier, McCain says the trip just sealed the deal for him and made Auburn the final choice.
"It was good to be able to get a close look at the practice," McCain says. "I was able to talk to a lot of the coaches in-depth about football things. We talked to the academic advisors and things like that. I had felt good about Auburn all summer, but there were some others that were up there with them. After that I knew it was the right place."
In addition to a lack of depth at tight end, Auburn is also busy continuing to install Coach Al Borges' offense. Tight end friendly, the new look with have the tight ends acting as receivers, H-backs and everything in between. One thing is for certain, they're going to be on the field for the Tigers and a key part of the offense.
We met with Coach Borges the other day and he was kind of explaining to us," McCain says. "You always hear west coast offense. I don't know about you, but I couldn't tell you what that meant. He kind of explained his philosophy behind it and how the tight end is in the game pretty much the whole time. A tight end is going to have to be able to block as well as catch and run. I was excited about all that. It is definitely a good situation for a tight end at Auburn."
Part of what may be one of the tallest high school receiving corps in the nation this year, McCain teams up with 6-7 Charles Hoke and 6-5 Larry Hedden to create nightmares for opposing coaches and players. The defending Class 5A state champions, Briarwood is shooting for another title in 2004 and McCain says the team is getting ready, although they're not quite sure how the tight end position is going to shake out.
"It's really however Coach (Fred Yancey) feels like that day," McCain says. "We've all three worked some at tight end and both of them split out wide every now and then. I have my double duty on defense. However it works out personnel wise and depth wise is how he'll get us in there."
For the time being McCain says that he's just going to relax and enjoy the moment. A lot of time and effort goes into a summer such as the one McCain and his family went through. In the end it was worth it and a dream has been turned into reality.
"It's unbelievable," McCain says. "It's a great feeling. We have our first game next week and it's just a good feeling to not have to worry about it and be able to focus on this right now. I just want to enjoy my senior season and hopefully win another state championship. After that it will be time to take care of things at the next level."