McGee ready for fresh start

After being labeled as a "running quarterback" A&M quarterback hopes to turn heads with his arm in Mike Sherman's new pro-style offense this season. Aggie Websider visits with McGee and Sherman about their relationship and McGee's goals for the season.

The 2007 football season was a rollercoaster ride for the Texas A&M football team. They had high hopes entering the season before an embarrassing loss on national television to Miami ended those dreams. But quarterback Stephen McGee came out firing in defense of embattled coach Dennis Franchione, which raised questions when he was fired and replaced by Mike Sherman following the Aggies 38-30 win over Texas.

But McGee said he never had any doubts that he would support Sherman and the new staff, despite his strong ties with the previous regime.

"It's tough when you've just played your last game and you're fixing to prepare for a bowl game and you've been playing with one coach," McGee said. "At that time we were still in season and whenever you've played for certain coaches for 4-5 years, it's not easy to say goodbye. That's not something I would hope for anybody would be easy when you've developed a bond like that."

But McGee said he believes that kind of loyalty was respected by Sherman, especially once the two had a chance to visit for the first time.

"I'm not a wishy-washy kind of guy. I'm going to be loyal to whatever coach I'm playing for and I think (Sherman) respected that," McGee said. "He didn't want me to be all excited that he was here. That's not the attitude he wanted. I think he appreciated that I was loyal to my coach and he just wanted to know that come January, I was going to be (loyal to him) and ready to go, and that was the case."

But A&M quarterbacks coach Tom Rossley said his first impression after watching several games on film, had doubts of his own about McGee, wondering if he had the skills to lead the new pro-style offense under Sherman and Co.

But nearly nine months after his first conversation with the senior quarterback, Sherman is not questioning McGee's loyalty—or his skills at quarterback.

"For a guy that really hasn't dropped back from center in his career, he has a good drop point, a good release, he's accurate, he sees the field very well," Sherman said. "When you ask him what happened, some quarterbacks—not very good ones—they don't remember. You need to be able to recall what you just saw and he has great recall. He's a very intelligent young man."

Now McGee is hoping that his last year at A&M will provide him with a chance to show that he's not an option-style quarterback, and that he has the skills he needs to be successful at the next level.

"I don't think I'll be pitching the ball sideways a whole lot. It's just a lot different, a lot more underneath center. I get the opportunity to throw the ball around a little bit and I don't have to take as much of a beating like I did last year running the ball," McGee said. "I think the versatility of the offense and what we've been able to do so far, and the way we can mix things up and move people around and the ease we have doing that—it's fun to be a part of the system like that."

McGee added that the system that Sherman has brought is his ideal offense.

"If I had a choice, this is the offense I'd want to be in," he said. "I've done every offense now. I've done one back, option offense from the spread, my 8th grade and 9th grade year I did the wishbone. I've had a taste of everything and I love this. The fact that when you turn on the TV, and see Joe Montana in the huddle in the 1980's, and he's calling the same plays that you're calling, that's pretty cool."

And if all goes according to plan, McGee hopes that other kids may turn on the TV on Sundays and see him calling plays in the huddle in the NFL, where nearly half the teams in the league run a variation of the offense he is now learning under Sherman.

"We've got three NFL coaches on our staff and they've all told me that I'm an NFL type of guy," McGee said. "As you know, they're straight shooters, so that gives me confidence."

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