With the 2013 NFL draft rapidly approaching, prospects continue to prepare for the biggest day of their lives.
The University of Miami has been one of the best colleges at producing NFL level talent. In recent years, it seems that the NFL has seen a number of Miami cornerbacks enter the NFL, such as Sam Shields and Brandon Harris.
The next cornerback likely to enter the NFL is senior Brandon McGee. He's coming off a senior season where he was the captain of a very inexperienced defense. However, despite a somewhat inconsistent season, McGee used the East-West Shrine Game and the NFL Scouting Combine to show NFL teams just what he can bring to a franchise.
I had the privilege to talk to McGee about his time at Miami, the East-West Shrine Game and what he feels he can bring to an NFL team. Here's what he had to say to when we talked to him leading up to the draft.
Matt Stein: When you were looking at colleges coming out of high school, what separated the University of Miami from other colleges?
Brandon McGee: The camaraderie really. A lot of those guys I knew prior going to Miami, and when I got there I felt comfortable with the players there and the coaching staff. That's what really stood out as opposed to every other school that I went to. Also, being close to home and having the opportunity to have my family see me play. And being close to my grandmother was also important to me as well.
MS: Do you think a different college could have helped you reach your full potential better than Miami?
BM: No, I don't feel that way. I think everything happens for a reason and I feel I've blossomed when I was supposed to. Big credit to Coach Golden and his staff. I don't have any regrets at all.
MS: What was it like to play at a school with the history like Miami does in football?
BM: Man, it was great. I took a lot of pride in it honestly. We had a lot of guys come before us, guys that are in the NFL now. There's a long list of them like Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Ray Lewis, Sam Shields and Brandon Harris. When you have those type of guys coming from your program you feel obligated to uphold the legacy. So, whenever you go out on the field it's your obligation to handle your business.
MS: Sam Shields and Brandon Harris are players you're being compared to. Do you feel your game is similar to theirs?
BM: I really feel like I see a lot of myself in both of them. Sam (Shields) with his athleticism and him being raw at the position coming out of college. He was able to make the transition to the next level rather easily because of his speed and his athleticism. I definitely see that in me. Also, with Brandon Harris, he was always a smart guy at Miami. I learned a lot from him. I took a lot from both their games and implemented it into mine.
MS: What did you take away from participating in a big event like the East-West Shrine game with other NFL prospects?
BM: Just to compete. I just wanted to show the mindset that I was coming out there to compete and show everybody that I felt like I was underrated. I felt that my performances in practices really showed that. I went out there and made a great impact. I didn't shy away from competition.
MS: You ran a 4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. Do you think that accurately shows the speed you possess?
BM: Yeah, I think it did. I definitely didn't run as fast as I wanted to. A lot of teams had me running in the 4.3s. I didn't run as fast as I wanted to, but it was pretty good.
MS: What are the biggest strengths you'll bring to an NFL franchise?
BM: My intelligence of the game. That's something that doesn't diminish over time. Physically you may not run as fast as you did as a rookie or you may not be as strong as your rookie year or move as quick, but your football intelligence is something that you can always improve. I think the ability to learn is my biggest asset, truthfully.
MS: What area of your game needs to be improved the most to be successful in the NFL?
BM: Truthfully for myself, just about every area. Honestly, there is no one specific thing I want to work on. I want to work on everything to become a complete player.
MS: Are you receiving much feedback from scouts and NFL teams regarding your draft stock?
BM: Absolutely. I'm receiving a lot of great feedback, but at the end of the day it is all meaningless until you receive that call from the team. They may say that they like you, but the draft is unpredictable.
MS: Which current NFL player do you think your game most closely resembles?
BM: I try to model myself after Charles Woodson. He's one of my favorite players in the NFL. He's a smart guy who makes a lot of plays on the ball, which was something I tried to do during my senior year. I watched a lot of tape on him and try to model myself after him.
MS: (Charles) Woodson has always been known as a playmaker. Do you feel you have those same skills as a playmaker?
BM: I absolutely do. I absolutely feel I have the same skill set to go out and make plays.
MS: What is it like to know that in just over two weeks you'll likely be part of an NFL roster?
BM: It's a blessing. A lot of guys have this dream growing up. A lot of guys I knew personally growing up had this dream, but a lot of them don't make it this far. Just to make it this far is a blessing.