Mailk McGue, Science Hill
On his pre-game radio show before Friday’s game, Morristown West coach Lamar Brown said Science Hill’s Malik McGue might be as good an athlete as his Trojans have seen.
McGue probably reinforced that notion while running for 48- and 6-yard touchdowns in the first half of the Hilltoppers’ 42-0 victory.
“That’s a good compliment from Lamar,” Science Hill coach Stacy Carter said, “because he’s seen some great ones … and he’s coached some great ones.”
McGue is playing quarterback. Defensive coordinator Ralph Nelson would love to have him playing cornerback, too, as he’s done in previous seasons. But coaches have decided the added explosiveness of fresh legs on offense is worth the tradeoff.
Indeed, McGue looks like a Division I recruit as a cornerback-kick returner. His quickness and hip rotation give him a high ceiling at cornerback.
It’d certainly help jump-start East Tennessee State’s program if the Buccaneers could get McGue. He’s just a junior, and would be part of the Bucs’ second recruiting class, but could play in their inaugural season in 2015. He could play on Steve Spurrier Field another year or two.
And McGue would be a great ambassador. Articulate and thoughtful in responses, he is just as impressive outside the lines.
When McGue was a freshman, Carter said his wife noted how composed and well-spoken the rookie was in interviews.
And McGue’s genuinely mindful of others while trying to deflect attention — even when asked about rushing for 267 yards and five touchdowns in the first half of a game. Of course, that was against Jeremy Bosken’s David Crockett, and Bosken was McGue’s position coach two years ago at Science Hill.
“My freshman year, if it hadn’t been for him (Bosken) making a suggestion to move me out to receiver, I mean I probably wouldn’t have played a minute,” McGue said. “He gave me an opportunity to prove myself after a lot of injuries that year.”
Bosken thinks highly of McGue and another impressive Science Hill junior, Malik Stephens.
“They’re great athletes and great kids, too,” Bosken said. “I used to pick Stephens up and bring him to weightlifting every day. It’s nice to see them growing up and seeing how far they’ve come.”
If a new logo can play a role in ETSU finding 3,000 new students, why not consider a complete reboot of the brand and discuss a new nickname? Many students have mentioned it, and many more former students have scoffed at a Buccaneers nickname for a school 360 miles from the ocean and 1,600 feet above sea level.
Many schools had to change nicknames out of respect for native Americans, and the folks at Alabama, Arkansas and, most recently, Wake Forest would tell you Louisiana-Monroe has adapted fairly well.
Why not a nickname with something to do with area wildlife, culture or geography? Maybe Bears or Copperheads. Shoot, goats would be better. A goat used to be the mascot – Captain Billy the Kidd. Former ETSU player/goat farmer Big Tom Buchanan could get involved.
Mountaineers is spoken for, but moonshiners’ current popularity makes White Lightning enticing. Political correctness wouldn’t stand for that one, obviously, but something with local flavor would pack more punch in terms of regional pride.
No disrespect to those who were or are Bucs, but a nickname related to mountains, rivers or Appalachia – bluegrass music, perhaps – would be worth considering in this pivotal period.
A campaign considering nicknames, including those who wanted to stay with Buccaneers, would generate some buzz among the students. And this community might just very well be buzz-proof without the students being the bell cow.
That being said, a diverse range of folks have been complimentary of football coach Carl Torbush’s reach-out. His personality is resonating with people who, basically, haven’t devoted any serious thought to ETSU in years if not decades.
Of course, if the Bucs could land a few signees like McGue and Elizabethton’s Ethan Thomas in the early classes, it would not only spur interest, but help the Bucs/White Lightning make tailgating on Saturdays fun, too.