McKinley Ready To Lead Receivers

Last season Sidney Rice and Kenny McKinley combined to form one of the best 1-2 wide receiver combos in the SEC, but with Rice moving on to the NFL, it's McKinley's turn to lead USC's young receiving corp this season. Read inside for McKinley's comments on how he will handle the pressure this season, what he thinks of Carolina's highly touted freshmen receivers and much, much more. spoke with Kenny McKinley at South Carolina's annual media day on Sunday afternoon, and he shared his thoughts on the upcoming season:

Question: With Sidney Rice gone, this is kind of your show now at wide receiver. How are you adjusting so far to being the man at wide receiver this year?

Answer: Sidney, that's my boy. But since he's gone now, I've got to step up, and I know what I've got to do. I've got to become the man and the leader of the receivers. I'm ready to step up into that role, and I think that I'll do good this year.

Question: You're obviously going into your third year in the program now, but how do you feel that you've improved the most since last season?

Answer: I'm one of the oldest and have got the most experience on the receiving corp, and I'm trying to give the freshmen advice on how to get better and what to do to get better. I definitely think I'm more of a leader this year.

Question: How do you think opposing defenses are going to adjust to you being the man this year at the receiver position?

Answer: I think at the beginning of the season I'm probably going to see a lot of double teams, but I already know some of these new guys are going to step up. As long as somebody else steps up on the other side, it's going to be pretty tough for them to stop us.

Question: What are your early impressions of some of the new receivers after being able to work with them in those summer passing sessions and going through that first practice with them?

Answer: Oh man, this has to be one of the best overall receiving classes I've ever seen. They all came in at one time. Jason Barnes has natural ability like he's been playing here for a couple years already. Chris Culliver has got some blazing speed. He's probably the fastest player I've seen since I've been down here. He can just leave somebody in a second. Those other guys, Dion Lecorn and Matt Clements, we've got some really good receivers. I just can't wait to see them in game-like situations.

Question: What do you think about the Jason Barnes - Sidney Rice comparisons, especially with him wearing Rice's old no. 4 jersey?

Answer: Yeah, he looks just like him. I call him "Little Sidney." He doesn't really like that, because he's trying to make his own name, but I believe he's going to surpass some of Sidney's records and all that. He came in already like he's been here for a couple years. I believe he'll be something great for Carolina.

Question: What are your goals for this year when you look at the 2007 season?

Answer: Really, I want to win the SEC. This is my third year, and my freshman year we kind of got a taste of it when we came in second in the SEC-East. It was like, if we had done this or that, we were just one game away from playing for the SEC. The SEC Championship is really what I'm looking for, and I'm going to help my team anyway I can. If that means being the man, then I'll be the man.

Question: Is there any one game that you're especially looking forward to this year?

Answer: We're going to take every game one at a time. All the SEC games, we're going to take one at a time.

Question: How do you guys take a different approach this year with two tough road games at Georgia and at LSU in the first month of the season?

Answer: We've just got to step up and get ready early. The first game against Louisiana Lafayette, we've got to really gel that game, because the next week we've got Georgia. We need to come together, because last year we weren't really gelled on the offensive side at the beginning of the season, and that really cost us a couple of games. I believe we'll be better at the beginning of this season, because the coaches are getting us ready now. I believe that Georgia game is going to tell our season.

Question: I know you were kind of snubbed on those preseason All-SEC picks. Are you going to enter the season with kind of a chip on your shoulder to prove those guys wrong?

Answer: I wouldn't say a chip, but I noticed they didn't really put me in too many preseason stuff. They might have forgotten about me, but coach said, ‘That's good they might have forgot about you, because hopefully they'll forget about you this season when you light them up.'

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