Kyle McCord is coming off a big Elite 11 camp who’s setting his eyes on a great senior year
Kyle McCord began playing football when he was five. He’s never had to stand on the sideline during a season—until last year. He watched the last four games nursing a knee injury as he watched his St. Joseph’s Prep Hawks win a second-straight PIAA 6A state championship.
He was a consensus Player of the Year in the Philadelphia area, after the 6-foot-3½, 213-pound quarterback threw for 2,399 yards and 31 touchdowns, against just five interceptions — in 10 games, in which he played one half of four of those games, with 25 of his 31 TDs coming in the first half of games.
Two weeks ago, McCord just returned from the Elite 11 camp, finishing first in the Pro Day competition on Day 2.
It was McCord’s first real taste of competition since getting hurt late last season.
He can’t wait to start his senior year, if the COVID-19 pandemic lets up and permits high school football—or any football, for that matter—to take place.
“Last year was tough watching, and it’s something that I won’t ever forget,” McCord said last week after the Ohio State commit returned from Murfreesboro, Tenn., where the Elite 11 camp was held. “The Elite 11 was the closest thing to get the juices flowing again. I learned a lot last year.
“I never watched a football game during the season, since I started playing when I was five. I think what last year has made me a lot better. I didn’t realize it at the time how angry I was over the situation. I wanted to play. But I understand that there was a lot at risk if I did play. I definitely grew mentally and I learned how much more I love football. It made me appreciate football so much more.
“Last year gave me a new mindset and appreciation for the game. It came at a price, but it has made me better.”
McCord was certainly under the heavy eye of the legions of Ohio State faithful. He worked at the Elite 11 camp with Trent Dilfer, current Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Jordan Palmer and Jerrod Johnson.
“I knew this camp would be different than any other camp I was involved with,” said McCord, the two-time Philadelphia Catholic League MVP. “I went down there with an open mind. I didn’t have any expectations. I wanted to do my best and see how it stacked up against the other guys.
“There was a lot to take in in three days. I gained a lot on and off the field. I didn’t know what to expect. Off the field, they stressed how much of a platform that you’re on and the people that you effect.”
McCord said he gained quite a bit from a drill Palmer showed on short routes, involving moving his hips and feet. McCord said he probably shaved off a half-second on those routes.
He’s 213 pounds, the most he’s ever weighed in his life. With the pandemic, he’s been able to run more and he’s probably in the best shape of his life.
But McCord still would like to become faster and improve his footwork.
“You can never stop getting better, it’s an attitude that I’ve always had and will always have,” McCord said. “I want to throw better on the run. I think it’s a matter of doing it over, and over again. I think athletically I’m better, but I want to get better.”
One area McCord has experienced is hot yoga, which is a 90-minute yoga session in 110-115 degrees. McCord did that for three months.
“It’s definitely helped,” McCord said. “It’s something that I never thought I would do. It’s something my dad kind of hinted at it. My first class I went there and there was around 10 women and I was the only one under 45.
“I really liked it. I started in January and went through mid-March. I had to leave before of the coronavirus. It was a little funny at first. I walked in and all the women in there looked at me. In time, I got friendly with the women in there. I think I made a lot of St. Joe’s Prep and Ohio State fans. Yeah, you can say it was like getting a bunch of new aunts and moms.”
McCord, like every other high school football player in the country, is hoping to get back to work in August.
“You can say I’m going into this season with a vengeance, because of the time I missed last year,” McCord said. “I won’t ever forget standing there watching football. It was great being around football and competing again.
“I don’t want to ever lose football again. I had to shift from preparing to play to preparing to coach. I never thought I would appreciate a practice or a meeting. I have to appreciate every single time I step on the field. It makes this season that much more important to me.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.
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