Early Riser

Among the handful of rising juniors at West Virginia's final day of camp was a two-way standout who has offers on both sides of the ball.

Zack McCray, a tight end and defensive end prospect from Brookville, Va., was looking forward to showing his ability at WVU's camp last Sunday, but an injury suffered earlier in his tour of colleges kept him from participating.

"It was really frustrating," said McCray, who partially tore ligaments in his ankle at a Virginia Tech camp, then aggravated the injury a week later at Wake Forest. "Being an athlete, the first thing I want to do is go out there and play and show what I can do."

Fortunately for McCray, and for West Virginia, he still has two more seasons on the field to demonstrate his ability. He'll also "certainly" make a return trip to West Virginia in the future.

"This was my first visit, and I was blown away by everybody up there," he said. "The people, the whole thing was great."

McCray, who wore a boot to immobilize the injury while it heals, has been collecting scholarship offers despite the snag in his summer workouts. West Virginia, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland and Boston College have all made offers to the talented prospect.

"I haven't ranked my favorites or anything like that, but I really like West Virginia a lot," McCray said. "I have been to all of the schools that have offered except Maryland and BC, and I plan to visit Maryland during football season. I'm not sure when I'll get up to Boston. But I plan on taking more unofficials, and [when I'm a senior} I will take my officials, and one of those will be to West Virginia."

Since it's still early in the process, McCray hasn't set a schedule for his decision.

"I haven't quite thought about that yet. I want to make sure I see everything I need to see, but I don't want to drag it out either. Once I make the decision, I won't hide it or anything like that.

McCray could play in college on either side of the ball. As a defensive end, he has great pass rushing skills that, coupled with good speed, make him difficult to block off the corner. Offensively, his size (6-4, 230 lbs.) causes mismatches with opposing defenders. As a sophomore, he caught 14 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns while earning second-team All-District honors.

West Virginia appears to be looking at him as a defender initially, as defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich paid him a good deal of attention during his visit.

"They really haven't said much about a position, but he wanted me to hang with him all day, so I'm guessing that's the side they are looking at for me," McCray observed. "I really don't have a preference. I like playing both sides."


Despite the boot, McCray doesn't expect to miss any playing time during his junior year.

"It was a partial tear, but the doctors said that the way I did it wasn't serious, and that it will heal by itself without surgery or anything like that. I think it is doing better now, and I will be ready by football season.

* * *

McCray's cousin, Logan Thomas, is one of the most highly recruited tight ends in the country, and he put on a pass-catching show at the camp. The pair, who grew up together and are quite close, have talked a bit about the recruiting process.

"He is kind of quiet about it, while I'm pretty open, but we have discussed recruiting some," McCray said. "We've talked about going to same college, but it would have to work out that the school offered the things that I want as well."

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