Why? There aren’t many players who have a projectable 6-foot-8, 314-pound frame. And McKinney is trying to develop and hone in the proper techniques as quickly as possible for TCU.
McKinney has started the past two games at left tackle and could be in line for his third consecutive start against Kansas State on Saturday. Coach Gary Patterson described McKinney’s season as “good and bad” to date.
“But I think he’s come a long way,” Patterson said. “Usually you feel like you get a year and a half out of a junior college player.”
In other words, it takes about half a year for a junior college player to adjust to the Big 12. For McKinney, he’s essentially at that mark as he’s split the bulk of snaps at left tackle with Austin Myers.
McKinney is in a different situation, though, as he didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. He had a standout wrestling career in high school, and is just now making his mark in football.
McKinney had to go the JUCO route to further his football career, landing at Iowa Western. He excelled there and was a four-star recruit by 247Sports.com.
McKinney came to TCU ranked as the No. 3 JUCO offensive tackle in the country, and the No. 14 overall prospect. He had offers from schools such as Oklahoma, Georgia and Michigan State, but opted for TCU.
After all, TCU has become known for producing offensive tackles for the NFL. When the NFL season started, TCU had more offensive tackles (six) than any other school in the country.
“I knew exactly coming to a program like TCU and with the success that they’ve had with offensive tackles in the past, I knew exactly the type of competition I was getting myself into and I was all for it,” McKinney said. “And I’m still all for it obviously. That’s why I didn’t back away when the opportunity was presented to me. I’m happy with where I’m at.”
The competition is internal and external for McKinney.
He’s been splitting snaps with Austin Myers much of the season at left tackle, and has been going up against some of the best pass rushers in the country.
As far as the competition with Myers for playing time, McKinney has no issues with how it’s unfolded to date.
“I’m a very unselfish person, so I understand the circumstances,” McKinney said. “Coach likes to rotate guys a lot and put in the best fits and I’m perfectly OK with that.”
As far as the competition, McKinney has seen progress. He went up against arguably the top pass rusher in the country, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, in Week 3 and was beat on a strip-sack, but he’s held his own at times too.
McKinney remains a work-in-progress given how new he still is to the game.
“Obviously progress is the biggest thing,” McKinney said. “I feel like I’ve made that. I’ve made slow, but sure, strides in my career here so far. I just have to strive to continue to get better every day.
“There’re things every week, depending on the opponent and all of that, I still learn every day that I maybe wasn’t used to in JUCO or haven’t seen before.”