• John Macon Gillespie

McKinney Makes Waves at Fortius Project

Tupelo has been one of the strongest defensive teams in the state since Trent Hammond arrived in 2013. In large part that has come to be so because of consistent player development. A star leaves a hole at certain position, and new face fills the void.

During the last two seasons Keviyon McKinney has mostly watched while guys like Diesel Howell, Jett Johnson, Peter Gray, Tay Standifer and many others have become stars for the Golden Wave defense. That didn’t slow his work ethic or rush his patience, as he knew the reps would eventually be there for him.

This past Saturday the rising senior defensive back arrived at the Fortius Project camp with little fanfare. By noon, that was no longer the case. He turned just about every head in attendance as he led the way in each testing category during the morning portion of the camp. His 4.57-second 40-yard dash, 4.5-second 5-10-5 shuttle time and broad jump of nine feet and two inches, all ranked first among all campers. As well, his balls skills and coverage ability shined during the afternoon position drills and 7-on-7 periods.

“The best part about the camp was testing my abilities to see where I’m at and competing against others,” McKinney told SES Mississippi.

McKinney was an obvious choice to make the All-Combine team, which honors the top 15 performers from the camp. Admittedly, he came to the camp with something to prove and he feels like that was accomplished.

“I wanted to prove to my coaches and colleges how good I am,” He explained. “It means a lot to represent Tupelo, and I want to do that everywhere I go.”

When the pads go on, McKinney wants to continue to play at the level he did last Saturday. He feels prepared to do so, because of the tutelage he’s received from being part of such a strong program.

“I have learned how to be a leader and get better at practice. The guys always tell me practice makes perfect, and I learned from some of their mistakes,” McKinney noted. “I can build on my performance last Saturday. I will keep the strong mindset. I will be working hard and finding ways to get better every day.”

The work is far from done, though. This offseason McKinney is mainly dedicating his focus to getting stronger and faster. He also wants to ensure he fills the leadership role his teammates need to step into. Being a leader is about setting the expectations for your team. That is something he’s already settled on.

“The defense will be faster and more athletic,” He said. “And we will have the same physical mindset.”

That’s not what the Wave’s upcoming 2018 opponents want to hear. But, in a program thats motto is seemingly each one teach one, they should be used to it by now.

#Tupelo #FortiusProject #JohnLukeMcCord

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