After an exceptional 2002 regular season, there was little doubt that RB Willis McGahee, Miami's third-year sophomore, had positioned himself to become possibly the second to fourth overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. Even though he hadn't yet officially declared for the draft, all indications were that he was going pro.
But all that changed in a single play at the Fiesta Bowl. If you watched the game, the sight of McGahee going down with a serious knee injury must have sent chills through your body. To think that he was just one quarter of football away from potentially becoming a top-five draft pick, and with it achieving financial security for life, made the injury even that much more difficult to fathom.
|Willis McGahee averaged 6.4 yards per carry and scored 27 TDs in 2002.|
This past season, McGahee showcased skills rarely seen in a running back his dimensions (6-0½, 225), proving to be a creative runner with impressive feet and a true breakaway threat. A complete player, he was an effective receiver out of the backfield and fulfilled his blocking responsibilities.
In 12 regular-season games, McGahee rushed for a school-record 1,686 yards and averaged a staggering 6.4 yards per carry. He scored 27 TDs and hauled in 24 receptions for a 14.6-yard average. Equally as impressive was his ability to make big plays in the most crucial situations.
Whenever the Hurricanes needed a jump start, McGahee was the igniter. In every regular-season game, he delivered an "A" performance, in my opinion, which certainly can't be said for many at the collegiate level.
Now, instead of preparing for the NFL combine and his individual workouts, McGahee is looking at a long rehab from knee surgery. His draft status is very much in question. Whether he's cleared to return to action at any point in the 2003 season is also in question.