Nov. 25, 2013
Boca Raton, FL is a long way from Detroit, MI. The weather is different, the people are different, and buildings are different. Daniel McKinney, a senior wide receiver on the Florida Atlantic football team, is still adjusting to south Florida, but one thing McKinney doesn’t have to adjust to is playing football.
McKinney began his football career at Melvindale High school in Detroit. A two way player in high school McKinney played receiver and linebacker. Although most Florida Atlantic fans know McKinney as a star on offense, he was heavily recruited as defensive player.
“Most of my offers were for defense, but I also received a few offers at receiver. I was just willing to go wherever I could go play and get on the field the fastest,” says McKinney.
McKinney received offers from Michigan State, Syracuse, and Cincinnati among other top notch programs. Unfortunately, McKinney did not qualify academically to play FBS (Division I) football after high school.
“It was frustrating, but I couldn’t blame anyone but myself. I should have taken care of my school work in high school,” McKinney added.
McKinney did not allow the disappointment to stop him from achieving his dream of playing college football at the highest level.
“I was given an opportunity to attend City College of San Francisco, a junior college in California, where I earned my AA (Associates Degree)” said McKinney.
“It taught me how to handle adversity. Everything is not going to be perfect; things don’t always go as you plan. You have trials and tribulations you have to go through.”
McKinney helped lead the City College of San Francisco Rams to a state championship, and caught the attention of West Virginia. But due to a mix up, he was not able to attend West Virginia.
McKinney’s goal of playing FBS football was on hold again until Coach Jeff Sims, FAU’s Associate Head Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, began his search for a slot receiver for the Owls’ new spread offense.
“When we looked into Daniel, the first thing that stood out was that he was a slot receiver. Moving from a pro-style offense to a spread offense, we were a little short on inside receivers,” says Sims.
“We thought he was big, physical and a really talented guy. We started talking to his coaches and they all talked about his leadership and how hard a worker he was. Those were qualities that we felt we needed at FAU.”
McKinney has exceeded his coaches’ expectations since joining the program. He is leading the team this season with 38 receptions for 399 yards and coaches credit his hard work and his ability as a team leader.
“Daniel is one of the guys who gets along with everybody and he knows how to communicate with everybody,” says Sims. “He is really good at motivating players and making the players understand that he’s pushing them for the right reasons.”
McKinney’s motivation comes from the goal that he and his teammates set at the beginning of the season.
“The seniors on this team define a successful season as making it to a bowl game which this program has not been to since 2008. We have the talent and the skill to win, so we are just putting it all together game-by-game, taking it week by week.”
McKinney plans on pursuing football when he graduates from Florida Atlantic; he is going to spend next semester training for the NFL combine and draft. McKinney acknowledges that playing in the NFL would be great, but he has already achieved his dream.
“I dreamed about playing football as a kid. My Mom used to tell me to stay on top of football and your school work because it would take me somewhere, and has taken me further then I could have expected,” says McKinney
“I dreamed about being here, but it was just dreaming. You never really think it is going to come true until it happens. So, right now I am just living my dream.”