McKinley keeps eyes on prize

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2007

PERKINSTON, Miss. &8212; Demopolis native Cedric McKinley has a chance to tie up several loose ends as he completes his football career at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Last weekends 31-6 beating of Northwest Mississippi Community College in the first round of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges State Playoff secured MGCCC&8217;s shot at the state title game. A win there will possibly position McKinley and his team for a chance at the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship &8212; ending his career on the highest honor at the level.

And, the better his team does, the further it goes and the more eyes will be watching McKinley as he shines at the defensive end position on the team, which is pretty important as he looks to make the jump to a Division I program. Not that he should be worried about the move.

McKinley and the rest of the defense, who have held opponents to a scant 69 yards rushing per game, are the focal point for the undefeated Bulldogs, who went a perfect 9-0 in the regular season and are ranked No. 1 in one junior college football poll and No. 3 in another. For his contribution to the unit, McKinley, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore, has racked up 19 tackles this season, with 18 assists, three tackles for a loss, four sacks, one caused fumble, five passes broken up, 10 quarterback pressures, and a recovered fumble in the end zone against Southwest Mississippi Community College 53-17.

His big plays and work ethic are paying off as he is approached by several schools &8212; including Troy State, Louisiana-Lafayette, the University of Minnesota and Louisville &8212; about coming to their programs to finish off his degree. Not that the big programs weren&8217;t looking at him in high school &8212; McKinley was originally recruited by Troy, but his grades weren&8217;t up to par coming out of Northview High School in Pensacola, Fla., where he transferred to from Demopolis to finish his high school education.

Now he is again looking at a chance to go to school, while at the same time getting on the field with a new team and playing ball. This time he just has to pick which one.

MGCCC Athletics contributed to this article.