He’s led the Pirates in nearly every statistical category since becoming a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2010 and developed into one of the program’s leaders during his senior campaign last fall.
For college, he’ll stay close to home.
The Lumberton High captain announced Monday he has accepted a preferred walk-on offer at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, a local program that already snagged two all-county defenders on national signing day in February.
“UNCP gives me a chance to show off my talent and further my career,” said McGill, who had a partial scholarship offer from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.”It’s closer to home and it’s cheaper to go there as an in-state student.”
McGill and his father, former Lumberton assistant Rufus McGill, met with Braves coach Pete Shinnick Monday afternoon to discuss the defender’s likely collegiate track. With a small senior class in 2013 and 14 additional signees or transfers welcomed in February, UNCP had few available slots on its football roster.
As a preferred walk-on, there is no guarantee of a scholarship but a player will have a reserved spot on the team in August.
McGill, an honor student, plans on reporting to Pembroke after graduation in June.
“I play football to see how far it can take me,” he said. “I want to always have my academics to fall back on. One of the best decisions I’ve made growing up was getting involved in weight training. I love working out. I’d like to help out other people in that respect and follow that (exercise sports science) as a major.”
The Robesonian’s 2012 Defensive Player of the Year waited six weeks after the signing period began to make his decision to honor his brother, Sonny, who died from injuries sustained in a car accident on Nov. 1. Family and friends released balloons in Sonny’s memory in the parking lot of Lumberton High just after McGill made his announcement.
Monday was Sonny’s birthday.
“It means a lot to me that Mac would honor his brother like this on a day intended for him,” said Jerri Johnson McGill, the mother of Sonny and Mac.
“Mac’s family is really proud of him and the student-athlete he’s become,” Rufus McGill said.
UNCP assistant Steve Saulnier was McGill’s lead recruiter. He’s seen the two-sport athlete develop into one of the Southeastern Conference’s top tackles over the last few years and was instrumental in helping the Braves land Purnell Swett’s Isaac Jacobs and Lumberton’s Ahmad Smith this season.
“Coach (Saulnier) told me everybody has an equal opportunity to play,” McGill said. “I’m starting fresh again, like a freshman on varsity. He said I have a very good chance of playing there.”
McGill says he has no regrets during the recruiting process even though he missed a chance of signing with Smith and fellow teammate Daniel Robinson on Feb. 6.
“I didn’t have my mind made up and I wanted to set a deadline for myself so I wouldn’t be waiting until May or something,” McGill said. “I just decided that this day, since it already has so much significance, would be perfect.”