Yet McAtee has become one of the "surprise" players during UK's 4-0 start after being pressed into emergency duty at cornerback due to injuries to E.J. Adams, Paul Warford and Trevard Lindley.
"That is how it has been for some time," McAtee said about his relatively anonymous status on the team. "That is fine with me. It is not really important who knows my name as long as I am contributing to the team."
His story is almost too good to be true. He only started one year at Seneca High School in Louisville , but had 62 catches for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns his senior season.
"I always wanted to go to Kentucky, but right out of high school I didn't get accepted (to UK)," McAtee said.
Instead, he went to Division III Franklin College and played receiver during the 2004 season.
"I saw limited action there. I went there, got my grades up and saw the opportunity to come back to Kentucky and took it. I transferred, sat out a semester and walked on in the spring (of 2006)."
He thought he could impress the coaches at receiver and three times during the 2006 season he was scout team player of the week on offense and the coaches picked him as the scout team's most outstanding offensive player when the season ended. However, the UK coaches projected him as a bigger help at cornerback than he was at receiver.
"I tried out there and it worked out for me," McAtee said. "I am a little surprised at how it all came together. I didn't think I was going to have the opportunity I do now, but it just shows what hard work can do."
Still, there's no way he could have expected to be playing significant minutes in the fourth quarter of wins over Louisville and Arkansas. But there he was.
"He has done some very good things obviously. He played significant snaps Louisville and a lot of snaps last night (at Arkansas)," Brooks said on Sunday.
So is he a major surprise this year?
"You could probably say that. We thought he was a good athlete. He did a lot of good things on the scout team last year. We decided to give him some chances, and he has taken advantage of those chances," Brooks said.
The best part, though, is that McAtee is not satisfied with what he has done going into Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic.
"I feel pretty good about what I have done, but I know there is more work to get done. We have tough games every week. I can't relax. You face a lot of receivers with great speed in our conference. It's hard to judge and stick with them. I just try to do the best I can," McAtee said.
VAUGHT: McAtee a big surprise
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