A’Mahri McCray admits he was “pretty mad” on Nov. 23, which is when the Miami Hurricanes lost to the FIU Panthers, 30-24.
“I love Miami – it’s been my favorite school since I was a kid,” McCray said. “But FIU has shown me love. I could see the execution that FIU put into winning that game.
“[FIU coach] Butch Davis gets players to where they want to be. He’s an outstanding coach.”
McCray, a 6-0, 220-pound senior middle linebacker at Miami Northwestern, was so impressed with FIU that he committed to the Panthers on May 19. McCray chose that day to commit because it was the anniversary of the death of Elaine Owens, his beloved maternal grandmother who passed away in 2013 at the age of 55.
“It was in honor of her,” McCray said of Owens, who lost her fight against breast cancer. “I had planned [that commitment day] for a few months.
“When she died, it hit me hard. It was like losing my second mother.”
McCray, who has the words “RIP Grandma” and “Long Live My Angels” on his Twitter page, also more recently lost his good friend, Josh Ancrum, a former Miami Carol City cornerback who was lost to gun violence on May 25, 2019.
“You can’t take life for granted,” McCray said. “Life can be gone at any moment, no matter your age.”
Owens and Ancrum would surely be proud of McCray, who has been a starter since his freshman year at North Miami High.
After two years at North Miami, McCray transferred to Northwestern, where he won a state title last season, compiling 120 tackles.
McCray, who has recorded three straight 100-plus-tackles seasons, has a pair of colorful nicknames: Hound and RB Killer.
“I’m a dog on the field,” McCray said when asked about the hound nickname.
The second nickname – self-appointed — happened when McCray saw another player, a defensive back, call himself a “wide receiver killer.”
McCray saw that and reasoned: “I’m a running back killer.”
Given his aggressive-sounding nicknames, it should come as no surprise that McCray’s favorite player is former Hurricanes and Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
“I learned to play linebacker by watching him on TV,” McCray said. “He’s a big influence.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ FIU left tackle D’Antne Demery is one of 85 players who has been named to the Outland Trophy watch list. The Outland Trophy is given to the nation’s top interior lineman. No other player from a South Florida college — including the University of Miami or FAU — made the 2020 Outland watch list.
▪ Several Class of 2020 basketball players from Dade and Broward counties have signed with Division I colleges, including 6-7 Gulliver forward Tony Sanders (Notre Dame); 6-6 Ely forward Dudley Blackwell (Iowa State); and 6-8 University School forward Jace Howard (Michigan, son of Juwan Howard).
In addition, 6-8 forward Scottie Barnes, who transferred from University School to Montverde, signed with Florida State. Jamal Mashburn Jr., a 6-0 combo guard and son of the former NBA star, signed with Minnesota. He had played for Gulliver before transferring to Brewster Academy.
Other D1 signees include 6-3 Miramar guard Brent Davis (Stetson); 6-8 Chaminade forward Johnny O’Neil (American); and 6-10, 265-pound Chaminade center Andre Weir (Richmond).
▪ Devin Carter, a 6-4 shooting guard at Doral Academy, has committed to South Carolina but will follow a similar path as Mashburn, spending the coming season at Brewster.
▪ Carlos Hart, a 6-5 point guard at North Miami, signed with Benedict College, an NCAA Division II school in South Carolina.