Virginia D-End Now Has a Favorite

Zack McCray, a 6-4, 235-pound defensive end prospect from Lynchburgy (Virg.) Brookville, recently visited one of his favorite schools, and that program made a move up his list. He talks about it, and about his interet in UCLA...

Zack McCray, the 6-foot-4, 238-pound four-star defensive end/tight end from Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Va., attended the North Carolina spring game on March 28 and says the Tar Heels are now his favorite.

"I really liked it down there," McCray said. "I love the environment. It's very family friendly and all the people were very welcoming. I'm still pretty open, but I guess if I had to say…I'm pretty high on North Carolina right now."

He says the Tar Heels now lead slightly over UCLA, LSU, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. All of his favorites have offered as well as Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Boston College, Duke, Tennessee and South Carolina.

"It was just really cool being at the North Carolina spring game," McCray reiterated. "I like all the coaches and finally got a chance to talk with them a bit more. I talked with coach Butch Davis and that was great. They told me that I'm one of their top recruits on either side of the ball.

"I also really like how the program is turning around," he said. "They did really well last year and I think they're on their way to becoming a powerhouse."

McCray, ranked as the No. 9 defensive end in the country by, also attended junior days at Wake Forest and North Carolina State.

"North Carolina State was really cool," he said. "Me and the defensive line coach (Keith Willis) have built a pretty good relationship already. He's very nice and a Christian guy. I like that he's a realist. He tries to see things from the recruits' perspective and doesn't put pressure on you."

The Wolfpack campus and facilities also stood out to McCray. "Everything there was really impressive," he said.

McCray says the two schools that are recruiting him the hardest are UCLA and LSU. "I have an uncle who lives in Los Angeles but I haven't been to UCLA yet," he said. "I plan on visiting them this summer.

"I don't really care about the distance and L.A. just seems like a great place," he said. "I know they have really good academics and getting a degree from them and working in L.A. would be great."

McCray says he's not too familiar with the Bruins football program yet. "I think they are moving in the right direction," he said. "They'll be a team to reckon with in the future."

As opposed to UCLA, which is moving up, LSU is already a team to reckon with according to McCray. "They are dominant almost every year," he said. "And they do it in the SEC, which is even more impressive."

McCray also has ties to Virginia Tech, where his cousin and former teammate (defensive tackle) Logan Thomas signed in February and Wake Forest where his friend and former teammate (offensive lineman) Devin Bolling also signed in February.

"I guess I'll try and learn from them," he said. "But so far recruiting has been fun. I don't really plan on letting it stress me out like it kind of did them."

But will their decisions give the Hokies or Demon Deacons any kind of advantage? "We agreed when they signed that they wouldn't try and recruit me," he said. "I love them, but honestly I couldn't care less about them going there. That's not gonna affect my decision at all.

"I want to make sure I fit in for four to five years and be friends with the people there," he said. "I need to have a close relationship with the coaches and players and it just needs to feel right. Otherwise I'm pretty open about things."

McCray's also open about which position he'll play. "Most schools are telling me it's my choice," he said. "And I just want to do what's best for the team and where I'll be able to play but my favorite position is defensive end.

"I like getting to hit people as opposed to being hit," he said. "Tight end is a glory position because you can score touchdowns, but defensive is what wins games."

And McCray knows a thing or two about winning. He finished his junior season with 87 tackles, 20 sacks, two fumbles recovered with one going back for a touchdown and one interception for a score.

Offensively, he also had 158 yards receiving for three scores.

"I have a combination of good hands and a big frame," he said. "I'm an easy target for the quarterback.

"I'm also very physical, especially on defense," he said. "I'm very aggressive and have pretty good speed."

He says he can bench 315-pounds, squat 430 and has a 30-inch vertical jump.

"My biggest thing I want to improve is my overall strength," he admitted. "I'm working on my bull rush. I just want to be more complete as a defensive end and not just pass rush. I want to be more like a true D-end."

McCray says he never followed college football as a youngster.

He says he plans on majoring in either business or communications and reports a 3.4 core GPA and is taking the SAT in April.

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