McGee Returns From Broken Back

There was nothing different in the way Andrew McGee tackled Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles last November. He'd done it hundreds if not thousands of times before but this time was different. As the Oklahoma State cornerback prepares for his senior season with the Cowboys he counts his blessings that he's even be able to walk onto Boone Pickens Stadium for the Sept. 4 opener against Washington State.

McGee, a transfer last season from Copiah Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi, was knocked out when he tackled Broyles in that game last season at Memorial Stadium in Norman. But it wasn't until the next day that he found out he'd cracked two vertebrae and suffered a broken back. It appeared that his OSU playing career was over after just 11 games.

"They did test on me and didn't see anything (after the game), but on the bus ride home I started feeling it, and I was up all night (in pain)," McGee said during OSU's Media Day on Sunday.

"They took X-rays and a CAT scan the next morning and told me it was broken. The crazy thing is if it would have shifted a few more millimeters I could have been paralyzed, and a lot of people may not know that. It's just a blessing from God that I'm walking, and even more that I can still play football," said McGee.

"I thought I was done. I wasn't at all (ready for that). You know as football players we complain a lot about getting up (early for practice), the workouts, and running, and how hot it is but when it's about to be taken away from you, it's kind of like a flash before your eyes, and you realize how much you love the game."

That's why the 6-foot, 190-pound senior is as excited as he's ever been for a season to begin.

The Cowboy secondary is going to need McGee to come up big in 2010. Strong safety Markelle Martin is the only returning starting in the secondary, and the Cowboys have only three cornerbacks (McGee and sophomores Brodrick Brown and Andrae May) who have ever played in a major college football game. Only Brown, who started in place of the suspended Perrish Cox in the Cotton Bowl, has started for the Cowboys.

McGee is the only senior in the secondary and knows that his role is going to be much different than a year ago when he arrived at Oklahoma State from the Mississippi junior college.

"I was fortunate to be able to play last year a lot with Perrish (Cox) and Terrance (Anderson). I was able to play a lot and made an impression on the coaches with how hard I work and how physical I am (as a player)," said McGee, who finished the 2009 season eighth on the team with 32 tackles, which is second among returning defenders.

"It's been a good thing I got to play last year. I'm the only senior in the secondary, so they look at me to be a leader. I hope to be a leader. I want guys to look up to me. I want to be a role model to guys, and eventually go on to play in the NFL," he added.

McGee says he is not apprehensive when he walks on the field because of last year's back injury. "The doctor said my risk factor is the same as anyone else who has never broken their neck, so that's a good thing. It's actually stronger now because of how it grew back together," he said.

"God kind of showed me that it's not just about football, and once He did that I was humbled and I knew that He had a bigger plan for me. Through that He's blessed me with being able to play football again, and He didn't have to do that.

"I'm ready to go 100 percent. Thank God."

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