RALEIGH, N.C. --- After a bumpy sophomore season, Matt McKay grabbed the attention of the North Carolina coaching staff during a pair of camp performances. The 6-foot-3, 167-pound Wakefield High quarterback has reciprocated the interest in the Tar Heels.
“He’s a great young man – he’s a real good individual, who has a very good heart,” Wakefield head coach Rod Sink said. “He’s a guy who hasn’t been in a football family, so he’s a guy who’s learning the game as he gets older… and he’s getting better at it.
“He’s a guy who could come out there and make every throw in the book – every throw. But the mental game, there’s things he’s go to work on and we’re working through that… Some guys just get it and Matt’s not a guy that just gets it, he’s got to work on it and he’s done a good job of that. His mechanics are excellent – you couldn’t ask for any better. Now, he throws it a little hard for high school – he’ll throw it through your chest, he’s a little Brett Farve-ish.”
As a sophomore last season, McKay became the starting quarterback of Wakefield’s up-tempo, spread offense. He finished the season with 2,260 yards on 158-of-359 throwing (44-percent) with a 21-to-23 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
“He showed last year that he wasn’t mentally ready to play varsity, but throughout the season you saw improvement with him,” Sink said. “And towards the last three games of the season, I think he played pretty well.”
In addition to improved passing success, Sink is forecasting better running numbers this coming season.
“We didn’t run him at all last year, because if he got hurt, we had nobody,” Sink said. “No offense to anybody who was there, but we knew the next guy was a huge drop off. But we have a backup now. [McKay] can run quite well, we just couldn’t get him hurt.”
Outside of mild interest from Wake Forest during spring practice, McKay’s recruitment didn’t pick up until June when he impressed during North Carolina’s Carolina QB Academy.
“I got a lot of exposure there,” McKay said. “It was wonderful. Coach ‘Heck’ [Keith Heckendorf] did a really good job – he ran it well. It was very long, but it was worth it for sure. I learned a lot.”
The performance led Heckendorf, UNC’s quarterbacks coach, to make McKay one of the four quarterbacks in attendance for Fedora’s Freak Show.
“It was a different experience, for sure,” McKay said. “There was a lot of hype, a lot of top recruits for sure, and a lot of competition. I did really well and that helped me out a lot [recruiting wise].”
McKay also camped at East Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest this summer. But his experiences at UNC were the most impactful.
“UNC, right now, is really sticking out,” McKay said. “It’s just the coaching staff – I really like them and we get along really well. And it’s just a fun environment. And the players that are there now, they’re really cool and they help you out a lot.”
Specifically, McKay has developed a strong relationship with Heckendorf.
“He said he really likes me and he wants me to get down there,” McKay said.
McKay plans to attend games at UNC and NC State this fall.
McKay is close with Connor Mitch, South Carolina’s starting quarterback and Wakefield alum, and his father. When Mitch is in town, the two work out together… McKay grew up a Virginia Tech fan, primarily because he admired former Hokie quarterback Tyrod Taylor… In addition to football, McKay runs track at Wakefield participating in the 400- and 800-meter dashes.
2017 Target: Matt McKay
Inside Carolina Top Stories
Jones Entering NFL DraftJunior defensive tackle was a standout on the Tar Heel defensive line in 2016.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 11:02 AM
Football Recruiting BoardInside Carolina's tracking of UNC's football targets
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 5:45 AM
Weekend Official Visit PreviewC.J. Cotman and Malik Zaire will travel to UNC for an official visit this weekend.
Inside CarolinaYesterday at 5:45 AM
Poor Prep Hurts HeelsNorth Carolina's lack of focus in its win over Davidson infuriated its head coach.
Inside CarolinaThursday at 6:33 AM
Give The Gift of Inside CarolinaNeed a gift idea for the holidays? How about a subscription to the No. 1 site for diehard Tar Heel fans!
Inside CarolinaWednesday at 1:10 PM