Tuesday, 4 August 2009

McNair remains strong through tragedy

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Oak Grove (Miss.) wide receiver Steve McNair Jr. has had more to deal with over the last month than any teenager should.McNair Jr., a three-star prospect, found out like the rest of the nation that his father, former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, had been shot to death in a Nashville, Tenn., apartment on July 4. But the rising high school senior has been a pillar of strength for his family to help them through this difficult time."I've got a lot going on with my dad just leaving me, so I'm just kind of to myself right now," McNair said. "I just take it one day at a time. I just check on my family and see how they are doing because I am doing real well right now. It's just like it shouldn't have happened like that, but that's how things work and how God planned for it to happen."

Steve McNair Jr. averaged 16.6 yards per catch as a junior.The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder remembers fondly growing up catching passes from his father in the backyard and credits him with helping him be in the situation that he's in now."It helped me a lot," McNair said. "With him throwing as hard as he can with me standing 5 yards away from him catching balls, it helped me with my ball skills. Other than that he was a great man to be around. I love him to death. He's gone now, so I've got to make my own path."McNair has scholarship offers from Mississippi State, Southern Miss, West Virginia and Tulsa. The offer from the Bulldogs sparked interest for the Magnolia State standout."They were the second team to offer me," McNair said of Mississippi State. "I'm really interested in them, but I'm still waiting until after my senior season to get over with; then I will make my decision."The only school McNair has visited since his father's death has been Alabama, but he left still waiting to hear back on an offer from the Crimson Tide."I went to Alabama a couple of weeks ago and did pretty good," McNair said. "I talked to coach Bo Davis and he said I was doing good. They are going to come to my first couple of games and make their decision then whether they would offer me or not."There is also a possibility of McNair following in his father's and uncle Fred McNair's footsteps at Alcorn State, where both were standout quarterbacks.McNair said his future college decision would not be based on athletics. "My decision isn't going to be about football; it's going to be about academics," said McNair, who plans to major in teaching and coaching. "That is all I am looking for in a school."SHARING AN HONOR WITH HIS FATHERMcNair was named as the 11th member of the annual Jackson (Miss.) Clarion Ledger Dandy Dozen. His father also earned the honor in 1990, making them the first father/son combination selected."The man called me and told me that I was one of the top 12 players in the state," McNair said. "I asked him was that a Dandy Dozen? That really made me happy about this year coming up. It really doesn't add any pressure because I know that I've got a lot of guys that have my back and will work hard to help me."McNair caught 58 passes for 962 yards (16.6 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns as a junior, helping lead Oak Grove to a 12-2 record. The Warriors are expected to be one of the top schools coming out of the newly formed Class 6A this season."We should be pretty good," said McNair, who is rated the No. 62 wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com. "We've got most of our skill players back. We've just got to work on our defense right now. Our boys are working hard to get better every day and just trying to do their best - just like me."The Oak Grove program has been in the national spotlight again this summer, playing host to another former NFL quarterback, Brett Favre, who usually spends his offseason working out with the Warriors."It's real good to get all the attention, but we treat Brett just like he's a normal guy," McNair said. "He's not in the NFL anymore, but he's a great guy."

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