Competition can bring out the best in players. It's the hope that SMU has with two freshman cornerbacks competing for a starting spot next fall.
"The competition makes us better. He makes me want to get up and learn new stuff," stated McConico to PonyStampede.com.
After having his red-shirt pulled late in the season, McConico expected to step right away into a starting spot with the graduation of Bryan McCann. He showed during the Tulane game as a true freshman he was ready for the D1 level. But going into spring practices, things didn't go exactly as planned.
"I thought I was going to start this year. But when I talked to Coach Odum, he told me that I needed to focus on my school work. I have been somewhat struggling in the classroom, so I have been focusing my attention on that," said McConico. "Since then, my grades have improved a lot and things are starting to get a lot better. I took a class called Oracle that helped me with my time management. It's been a big help."
With the majority of his time focused on academics, McConico was not able to focus any more of life to football besides for morning practices.
"I was so busy with study halls and stuff like that, I couldn't watch film that much. It's an advantage that Keivon had on me this spring," stated the California native. "At our spring exit meetings, Coach Odum told me the position is still open this fall. So I know that if I work hard, I can get it."
Expecting to come in and make a run for a starting spot at the beginning of the season, McConico didn't report to SMU until a couple days into the semester. It set the freshman back on learning the defense and conditioning. It wasn't until the last game of the regular season that he would be called upon to make an impact. With Sterling Moore and Derrius Bell sidelined, McConico started against Tulane recording four tackles.
"I grew a lot because I found out the speed of the college game. That is an advantage that I have already over Keivon," said the freshman who also logged time against Nevada in Hawaii.
With a budding rivalry, McConico and Gamble are great fiends, hanging out together and enjoying the same hobbies.
McConico earned first-team Los Angeles City Section on both offense and defense as a senior in high school. He collected 36 solo tackles, 52 assisted tackles, and eight interceptions going against some of the top players on the West Coast as a junior.