By LARRY VAUGHT
For months lineman Marquan McCall read and heard how he would never become an official member of Kentucky’s 2018 football recruiting class.
He was one of Michigan’s top-rated high school players despite suffering a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee that forced him to miss about half of his junior season. It also required him to wear a knee brace for safety reasons this season.
Before he was hurt, he had scholarship offers from a bevy of schools including Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota and Missouri. The 6-3, 350-pound McCall was a four-star recruit but committed to Kentucky and never wavered in his commitment. He signed with Kentucky last week.?
“I just wanted the people of Lexington to believe in me,” said McCall. “Once I say I am going somewhere, I am loyal to the team and fans. I am glad it (recruiting) is over. There was a lot going on, but I was loyal (to UK).”
McCall says it was not that hard to stay firm in his commitment.
“They stayed loyal to me when I had my surgery on my knee. No other school was talking to me when I was injured but Kentucky. Just trying to return the favor with Kentucky. All the others bailed on me when I got hurt,” McCall said.
At Oak Park (Detroit) High School, McCall was a two-way starter. He was highly rated as an offensive guard but wants to play defense at UK — and that’s fine with UK coach Mark Stoops for obvious reasons.
“We looked at him on both sides of the ball and felt like he was versatile enough to play on either side. The big thing is I wanted him playing at Kentucky, whatever side of the ball was good with me,” said Stoops.
Kentucky obviously needs defensive linemen, especially those with athleticism and size, to compete in the Southeastern Conference.
“I think I am going with D-tackle. I really like offense but defense is where I am better. I think I will do that,” McCall said. “I played both ways in high school, so that should help me. I can get a feel for what offensive lineman do. Since I have been playing that position so long, that is an advantage for me.”
McCall understands why some believe he’s too big to be as athletic as he says he is.
“I am really fast and quick on my feet, but people go by weight and stomach (size),” McCall said. “I can move to be big. You will be amazed when you see me play. I have always been big. I have five uncles, and they are all huge. I guess that is where I got my size. I have been playing football since I was 7, so I guess I just grew up an athlete.”
He also thinks of himself as an “aggressive leader” who likes to talk — and talk a lot. He can be rough or lovable with teammates at almost the same time.
“I will get in your ear. I will make you mad,” McCall, who will enroll at UK in June, said. “I love playing the sport. I will be rough on you. Once it is my time to be captain of my team, I get down to business and there’s no playing around. I am with my team. I am hyped all the time. That is just me. When I get on that football field, my heart is just racing. Always has been that way.”
He didn’t worry about UK losing its final two regular-season games to Georgia and Louisville. Feeling at home at Kentucky meant more to him than the team’s record.
“As long as I felt at home, that is all I care about. We can do work when I get there,” the Michigan lineman said. “I just care for the game. It’s a family. If we know what we can do, that’s all that matters.”
There is a soft, gentle side to McCall. Like many athletes, he likes to “chill” at home. But if the weather is suitable, he likes to fish — something future teammates Kash Daniel and Landon Young should be able to help him with once he gets to Kentucky since that is also one of their favorite hobbies.
“I have to get there (Kentucky) and see where there is to fish,” McCall laughed and said. “I go fishing every year with my grandmother. I love fishing. It’s just a wonderful thing to do.”
He also thinks he might want to be a communications major at Kentucky. One thing he wants to do is learn American Sign Language to enable him to communicate easily with the deaf.
“I have always liked to see how they (the deaf) were able to communicate. I have always wanted to learn so I could talk and communicate. As I said, I love talking and this would just be another way for me to talk to more people and I have always thought that is something I need to do,” he said.
Can't find something?