Almost a year ago, Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee was getting ready to take over his team after the departure of Reggie McNeal. He had played the final five quarters of the 2005 season and was ready. It was "his team" now.
But on the second day of two-a-day work outs last August, that anxiousness took a back seat to fear.
"I was just throwing and it started hurting real bad and burning and I knew that wasn't normal," McGee said.
He had torn a muscle in his throwing shoulder that effectively sidelined him for the rest of fall practice. It was scary, but it could have been much worse. Although McGee bounced back in time to play the opening game, he missed several weeks of practice.
A&M head coach Dennis Franchione said that the injury did not effect his play calling, but he was disappointed that a young sophomore, like McGee, was forced to take over the starting position without having a fall camp to get a feel for being in the pocket.
"To his credit, he stood there and did mental reps, and knew where to throw the football," Franchione said at the Big 12 Media Days on Monday. "But when you've got four or five 300-pounders rushing you, and making you move around in the pocket, there's no way to replicate that going into the first game if you haven't been in the pocket during fall camp. He just didn't have that."
McGee wouldn't make excuses, but it was clear that he was holding back when talking about his injured shoulder.
"I wouldn't say my body was ever at 100 percent last year," he said. "It (effected throwing downfield) a little bit I guess. Everyone wants to focus the arm injury for resulting in the reason we didn't throw the ball downfield and I just think last year we found success controlling the clock and those kind of things and just didn't take as many shots."
McGee thinks that he'll be healthier this year because of the things he's done to take care of his body in the offseason, which is good news for Aggie fans.
This year McGee does have that ability, and thanks to him taking better care of himself physically in the offseason, he thinks the results will be obvious to everyone.
"It feels good. I feel as strong as I've ever been," McGee said. "I've gained about 20 pounds and trying to build up my throwing muscles after my injury but it feels great now."
That's great news for Aggie fans.
McGee threw for 2,295 yards and ran for 666 yards and four touchdowns on 146 carries, including the game-winning touchdown against Texas in Austin last November. He's got a record of 9-5 as a starter and is 5-1 on the road in his career, which is an invaluable stat for the Aggies with their road schedule in 2007.
If a healthier McGee improves on those numbers to compliment the rushing attack of Chris Alexander, Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson, the Aggies will have an offense that will be tough to slow down, much less stop.
McGee will graduate in August with a bachelors degree in marketing. He was recently accepted in the Mays Graduate School and will receive a masters degree in marketing before he leaves A&M. What makes his accomplishment even more remarkable is that he only came to A&M with three credit hours his freshman year.
McGee's arm feeling better
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