Anthony McKee Jr. understands. He realizes that for a linebacker, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds isn’t ideal.
But that hasn’t deterred schools from reaching out. The four-star linebacker has received around 20 offers, ranging from programs in the ACC, Big Ten and the SEC. Recently the linebacker released a top-ten list of schools that he planned to focus on, which included the Orange.
McKee said that originally, Syracuse was recruiting a friend. But after a quick conversation, he realized he wanted to reach out to the school.
“I got in contact with Syracuse, and we started talking,” McKee said. “A week or two later, after they watched my film, they offered.”
His initial contact, and the person would later offer him a scholarship, was linebackers coach Clark Lea. Since the Orange offered in April, McKee said the coach has been a constant presence.
“I feel like he’s a good coach that wants the best for his player,” McKee said. “He sees a future for me going up there and playing for them and what they can mold me into to help their program.”
McKee said that Syracuse, and most schools, are looking to use him as a linebacker in college. That said, he could be converted into a safety to his ability to drop into coverage. But McKee wants to be a linebacker, and he expects to increase his weight. He thinks the idea of a prototype size is outdated, anyway.
“I see me as an undersized linebacker,” McKee said. “But the game is changing. Nobody is big and bulky anymore; everyone is all about speed and making plays. But I can see myself at 205 (pounds) though.”
He looks at smaller linebacker in the NFL for inspiration, and he hasn’t had to look far. The Ohio native said that his role model was Ryan Shazier, a former Ohio St. linebacker who was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 15th selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“I’ve been watching him since I was a freshman, and I think he plays just like me,” McKee said. “He was an undersized linebacker, but he made plays and was aggressive.”
Though he is interested in Syracuse, McKee has many offers to consider. He recently went on a recruiting trip to Pitt and enjoyed it. He is leaving for a second visit with Michigan State next week, which he said has an awesome family atmosphere. And he will visit Oklahoma sometime near the end of summer.
Currently, he’s not sure when he will visit the Orange, but he did say that he may wait to visit during the season for the official visits.
But that will push his decision date back. And for a guy who wanted to pick a school before his senior season started, that makes him nervous. But he is trying not to lose focus of his main goal. It’s not about playing time or proximity to home. It is about feeling accepted in the football team’s environment at the school he chooses.
“I just want to feel comfortable because this is definitely a big decision for my future and career,” McKee said. “I couldn’t imagine committing somewhere without visiting, because if you have never been up there, you don’t know what they have to offer.
“More than likely, it’s not going to be what you’re looking for.”