0-2. That's how Central high school started out the season. Coincidentally enough, star defensive tackle/end, James McKinney was also absent. Well, technically speaking, McKinney was back for game two, just coming off an injury, but as he said, it was game three when he felt like he was really back. "There's no excuses, but first games are always times you try and get back into the game." He said. "We only gave up two touchdowns in that game, but once the third game rolled around, I was feeling a lot more into the season."
2 touchdowns in that game, but after McKinney was back to full speed, the rest of the season up to now has been an entirely different deal. "We've allowed four touchdowns total since then." James said. "The defense has been getting better almost all year now."
Obviously, McKinney is a big part of that, but statistically, he wasn't sure just how much. "I haven't really kept track." He said. "Last time I checked, it was like nine and a half sacks and thirty-some tackles, most of those from the backside."
You'd understand why most of McKinney's tackles are coming on the heels of whoever he's bringing down. Much like you would expect of any offense that knows they will be seeing a dominant defensive player, they take the best philosophy they can so they can have success.
Run the other way.
"Yeah, that's all they do." James said. "I come off the ball and I know I am running to the other side."
Jokingly, McKinney said that he said it's a good way to stay in shape, but conceded that he'd rather have teams stand there so he could hit them. "I'd feel better, but I guess I wouldn't get any better if they kept coming my way."
What IS coming his way is a lot of recruiting attention, the season and his performances only intensifying the adoration from afar. Offers? He's got a truckload. Teams he's really serious about? Probably pretty heavy as well, but as McKinney said as to his attention on recruiting, it's somewhat passive right now. "The season is going well and I don't really want anything to take away from that." He said. "So, I am looking at it, but I'll look a lot harder after the season is done."
His singular mind-set hasn't stopped McKinney from setting at least one official visit, that to take place in Lincoln, Nebraska on November 26th for the Colorado game. Other than that, though, James said that the only other team that he's for certain visiting will be Oklahoma, but that won't be until much later in the year. "If I go to Oklahoma, it will probably be in January." He said. "I just wanted to check out Nebraska now, because of all that NFL experience they have on the coaching staff."
That NFL experience directly relates to McKinney through those recruiting him, John Blake who was a defensive line coach with the Dallas Cowboys and Randy Jordan, who was a running back with the Oakland Raiders.
It's that experience that he said more than offsets Nebraska's current struggles right now. "It's a new staff." James said. "That's how it goes with a lot of new staffs. They are going through what you would expect."
One of the things that James said that the Huskers were struggling at, at least for him was probably not a bad thing in the end. "They can't get any pressure on the quarterback." He said. "If you can't pressure the quarterback, it's hard to do anything defensively."
The Nebraska woes aside, James said that he'll have his eye on a lot of things once he steps foot in Lincoln, but they will be the same things as he will be looking for no matter where he goes. "It's a place I'm going to spend four years of my life." He said. "The program, the team, the coaches, the academics, it's all going to come into play. There's not just one thing I am looking at, because there's a lot more than one thing that goes into being at a school."
McKinney has a lot of time to figure out where he's going, but as he said above, he's not worrying about all that right now. One more regular season game and the playoffs loom for Central high and while recruiting is there, it's being kept in perspective. "I have to worry about it to some extent, but my season is what matters to me right now." James said. "My last year, we have a team that is clicking right now, that's what I want to concentrate on. It's important to finish this thing off in style."