Kenneth McGruder: His Coach's Take

Kenneth McGruder originally committed to Oklahoma State in June, had some second thoughts in the fall and looked around some before eventually re-committing to the Cowboys in December. With National Signing Day on Wednesday, we visited with Alief Taylor head coach JD Jordan about McGruder and his future with the OSU Cowboys.

What are Kenneth’s strengths as a football player?
Jordan: One is his size for a safety. He’s a good-sized young man. He originally transferred in here two years ago as a basketball player. He came out in the spring for football and we quickly recognized his ability. His junior year he kinda went leaps and bounds in improving. He really latched onto football. His leadership ability and his aggressiveness and tenacity are good.

What are the areas that he’ll need to improve to play in the Big 12 Conference?
Jordan: I’m not sure what they’re going to do with him there at safety but maybe just the one-on-one skills. He’s working hard right now running and lifting to get ready for the next level, and he understands he needs to be at his best to compete at the next level.

Is there one play or one game that you’ll always remember about Johnny?
Jordan: He had some pretty good bone-crushing hits. This is kind of sad, we were in the second round (of the playoffs) last year, his junior year. Our quarterback got hurt and we were getting beat and it wasn’t good … he was a guy that wasn’t going to give up, he wasn’t going to quit. Just his tenacity and his will to compete stands out to me.

Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Jordan: Probably a couple of things. We stress education here and Oklahoma State is a great school. We have a teacher here who got her doctorate at Oklahoma State, and she’s a big (Cowboys) fan. Every time there’s someone from Oklahoma State visiting the school she wants to meet them. We know it’s a great academic school. Two, they play a great brand of football and they win. Three, we got two guys up there already from Alief. He played with Keenan (Brown) and he played with Chris (Hardeman), and that probably had to factor into his decision too.

What type of person is Kenneth away from football? Can you talk a little bit about his character traits?
Jordan: He’s a pretty laid back kid. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde, which is pretty much like most of our kids. Off the field, they are calm, cool and collected, but once they get on the field he changes the competitive player that you want.

What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Jordan: We’ll miss just taking him for granted. You didn’t have to worry about him, he was going to take care of business on the field and off the field. I hope I didn’t take him for granted but we probably did. We didn’t have to worry about him because we knew he was going to take care of his job and be the best we could be as a team. He’s just a solid young man and football player.

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