I wrote this article for my school newspaper about our star running back prospect, Octavias McKoy, who you may remember as the guy who broke LaDainian Tomlinson’s single game NCAA rushing record. With less than three weeks before the draft, I think it would be an interesting read for draft nuts to see how small school prospects prepare for the possibility of standing out.
When Western Connecticut State running back Octavias McKoy put himself among college football’s elite after breaking the NCAA single game rushing record, he set off a domino effect that would lead to good publicity for his school, his team, and possibly the opportunity to achieve what so few can dream of, a career as a professional football player in the prestigious NFL. With the NFL Draft coming next month, there is a possibility that McKoy may hear his name called that weekend. According to McKoy, the interest in him actually started before the record day. “The Indianapolis Colts scout came in the summer time, they were the first team to show interest.”
After the record day, in which he ran for 455 yards against Worcester State, the interest grew exponentially. According to him, “Up until this point [we] probably spoke to 12-15 teams and that interest has grown since then”. McKoy also appeared on television, for networks like ESPN, YES, local news outlets, even high profile sports websites like Bleacher Report and SportsEdge covered his game. This is impressive, since very little attention is given to football at the Division III level, the lowest level of NCAA athletics, and very few Division III stars go on to star, let alone have careers in the NFL.
However, a big game and a big season for McKoy wasn’t enough. In order to prove that he could be a pro football player, he had to sell himself to teams further. This meant participating in workouts where he would show off what he could do to more NFL scouts. McKoy attended Yale University’s Pro Day, a showcase for top college football players from the New England area.
McKoy, however prides himself on his performance at a regional scouting event in Atlanta. As he rattled off his measurables, there seemed to be a gleam in his eye. “I ran my fastest 40 [yard dash] at my regional combine out in at Atlanta. That was a 4.6 [second] electric. I jumped a 10’ broad [jump], I had a 37.5” vertical leap. Some of my numbers got better, some didn’t improve, but as far as field drills, I didn’t drop one pass and I nailed every field drill.” His 40 yard dash would have placed him 20th among running backs, his broad jump would have placed him 17th, and his vertical leap would have placed him 7th had he participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, according to CBSSports.com.
It was also through that event that more teams communicated with him. “On a one on one level, it was actually very cool because when I was in Atlanta I talked to the Dallas Cowboys, I talked to the [New Orleans] Saints and I talked to the [Atlanta] Falcons so they’re showing some more interest.” he recounted.
McKoy admits that preparation for the Draft is difficult at times. “Day-to-day, you can’t do a lot of things. You gotta kind of be in the shadows, keep a low profile, can’t really go out, but it’s only for a period of time.” However, he’s not concerned about teams judging his character or his football IQ. “My stock has definitely risen because I’m a high character guy… I’m a true student of the game. I’m not just a player, coaches will want a student of the game so I study the game”. He also said that in preparing for the draft, he has a great support system. “My family, my coaches, my agents back me, my friends… as far as your family and your team of people, they pretty much keep you in line, keep you focused.”
McKoy’s humility could play a factor into his future with a team, as he already knows what to expect should he be on a team’s roster. When asked about what he thinks about his future role should he be drafted or signed, he acknowledged the fact that he’d have to start small. “As a rookie going into the league, you got to play special teams, especially if you come from a small school… Basically you got to go and play wherever the coach asks you to play, you go out there and give it your best, and hopefully, you’re good enough to earn a job… I feel like whatever team I go to, I feel like I’ll be a part of it and I’ll contribute. I’m just patiently waiting, and we’ll see.” However, he knows that even with the lower expectations, he’ll still try and make sure he works hard. “I’ll be myself, go out there, work hard, stay dedicated to my craft, try to be my best, and we’ll see what the future holds”, he said.
McKoy gives all credit to Western, going so far as to say that the school changed his life. Reflecting on it as if he had already left, he gushed, “The opportunities I got at Western changed my life so I could never really truly thank them enough. I think about it all the time.” He showed an incredible amount of maturity in realizing that he has become one of the faces of Western, not just their athletics, but also the school as a whole. “I look forward to just staying positive and becoming a role model for my school, my community and try to be at my very best… I want to see our school succeed, I want to see our sports succeed, definitely football succeed, and anything that could come from me breaking records or me getting notoriety for getting our school benefit, I’m all for it.”
If McKoy is given the chance to play in the NFL, not only will he give Western athletics the notoriety he knows will come of him playing, he will also help further blur the stigma that comes with the disconnect between playing at a lower level college program, possibly paving the way for more outstanding Division III football players to make their mark in the NFL.