The 2018 NFL Draft is set for Thursday, April 26th through Saturday, April 28th. As the stars of the college game get ready to find out where they will begin their NFL journey, CBS Local Sports’ “My Life As” series will give them an opportunity to talk about how they got to this point and what they expect from the future in their own words.
We begin with Miami Hurricanes tackle K.C. McDermott. K.C. comes from a football family, both of his older brothers played at the Division I level, and having that constant competition at home has made him into a fierce competitor. He started 34 games over the course of his four years with the Hurricanes, and was one of the senior leaders on this year’s team that rose as high as #2 in the country.
I was about six years old when I started playing football. I have two older brothers (Tyler and Shane) who played, so when I was growing up watching them, it always seemed like something that was fun. Once I finally got my opportunity to step out on the field, I couldn’t say no.
I started off playing in a flag football league, there was no tackling, but there was still plenty of contact. We wore shoulder pads and helmets and there was still blocking, but you weren’t allowed to tackle.
It was a tremendous blessing to have two older brothers to look up to and learn from as I was growing up in the game of football. But, like any brothers, we did fight a lot as kids, that’s what brothers do. Everything that we did was a competition, whether it was playing basketball in the front yard, seeing who could run around the neighborhood the fastest, every single thing turned into a competition.
I think that constant competition really helped develop me into the type of competitor that I am today. Both of my brothers went on to play Division I football, Tyler at Colorado State and Shane at Miami, and the advice that they gave me along the way was crucial. Make sure you’re on time always, have a good relationship with your coach, study the playbook, get in the film room. The advice was constant, and they also helped to teach me the technique that they had learned, complementing what my coaches were teaching me. To be able to have someone to lean on like that who had already gone through any situation I encountered in my career was pretty special.
I was pretty highly recruited coming out of high school with offers from schools like Notre Dame, Florida State and Alabama, but I just couldn’t say no to the program that I had grown up watching and imagined myself being a part of: Miami.
Miami was a dream school for me. My walls as a kid were orange and green, I had a Miami Hurricanes bed cover, whenever we played video games I played with Miami. To play for the Hurricanes was something that I really, really wanted, and I got to make that dream a reality.
The thing I’m going to remember most as time goes on about my time at Miami is being part of the transition back to getting the program playing Miami Hurricane football again. My class came in as one of the best classes that Al Golden had recruited up to that point and from the time we all got there we said that we were going to be the class that turned this thing around.
Especially this past offseason as we all looked at each other and realized, it’s been four years already, it’s gone by so fast. We had seen some improvement to that point, but we finally just sat down and said look, we know all the former Hurricanes, let’s actually talk to them. Let’s work out with them. We had K.C. Jones, Bryant McKinnie and Vernon Carey all individually come and work us out as offensive linemen. What we heard from them in those workout was ‘hey, we were a player-led team.’ So, we all looked at each other as seniors and said, you know what, we’re going to lead this team.
After leaving school, I accepted an invitation to the Combine in Indianapolis. To get ready, I went to IMG Academy to prepare. We would get up at 6 a.m. every day, have breakfast by 6:30 a.m. and then be stretching and getting ready by 7:30 a.m. At that point, we’d start to get into drills. Some days it was linear drills (like running the 40), other days it was more of the side-to-side stuff (i.e. cone drill, 5-10-5). We’d work on that for about an hour and a half. After that, it was treatment time, working out any of the kinks that you were feeling that day before hitting the weight room for an hour and a half. By the time you get to lunch, it’s 1 p.m.
After lunch, it was onto the field for position-specific work with the position coaches that they had there. You’re on the field with them until around 3:30 p.m., before hitting the film room from around 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Then, it’s dinner time and your day is done by 7 p.m. That was pretty much every day. Even after the combine was over, I still had to prepare for my pro day at Miami, so I stuck to the same schedule.
Aside from the physical aspect of my training, I’ve also made some changes to my diet since leaving school. At IMG they had a full-service nutrition staff, which really helped us out in understanding the right foods to eat, when to eat them, portion control and stuff like that.
Granted, I’ve always eaten pretty well, even in college at Miami, though it’s hard to eat well during the season because of how busy you are in a typical week. On top of that, sometimes the food that they’re providing you isn’t the best option, but it’s what’s available.
Working with the nutrition staff at IMG, I started to incorporate more vegetables throughout the day, carb-load in the morning so that you have energy throughout the day, you don’t necessarily need the carbs at the end of the day. Little things like that have helped me re-shape my body a little bit since I was looking a little chunky at the end of the college season.
Now, I’m leaner, I’ve put more muscle on, and it was really good to get to work with IMG and get help working on that. I like to cook, so I’ll do meal-prep for the entire week on Sunday, basically being in the kitchen all day.
The biggest thing I’m working on within my game as I prepare for the NFL level is my technique. That’s a large part of offensive line play, using the right technique all the time. I don’t think any offensive lineman can say that they have perfect technique without working on it every day. I try to get out on the field every day and keep working on the stuff that I know how to do and make sure that I stay at peak level in terms of technique.
On the mental side of things, I just try to watch as much film as possible. It can be hard to sit there and watch film by yourself, especially when you’re not even on a team yet. But, I just want to get a general feel of how they play in the NFL and take anything you can see from any of the veterans that are already in the league.
As for the Combine experience itself, the biggest thing I can tell you about the combine is that it’s a little like “speed dating.” The reason I say that is because there’s this thing called the “train station” which is in the hotel that you stay in, that was once an old train station. Now, at night, you’re doing 15 minute interviews with every team in the train station. How it works is, you walk in and every team has a table with two coaches per team. On top of the two coaches, there are a couple of “runners” for each team. So, the runner will bring you over to the team’s table and you sit down, and then a horn blows to start the interview. When the 15 minutes are up, the horn blows again and you shuffle off to the next team to do another interview.
Alright, so you know what my journey to this point has been like. But, now you probably want to know what I bring to a team and what I can do to help your favorite squad. I’m a really physical player. Every team I’ve talked to in this draft process has noted how physical I am when they’ve spoken with me.
On top of that, I’m a very smart player, I’ve always got my head in the playbook and by the time I was done at Miami, I knew the playbook inside-and-out from nearly every position on the field. Because I had only one class during my final season, I had a lot of time to spend in my offensive line coaches’ office getting to know the game of football on an even higher level than I already did. We spent time not just on our positional responsibilities, but on learning to recognize defenses, coverages, and different alignments. In addition, I took part in our run-game strategy meetings too. So, if your team drafts me, they’re getting a smart, physical player who works nonstop on his craft.