McConkey joins Georgia Bulldogs

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BY ERIK GREEN, Sports editor

When Ladd McConkey stepped onto campus at North Murray as a freshman, he was tiny, and some might say, brittle. No one except McConkey would have imagined a day in which he would sign to play football at a powerhouse like the University of Georgia. That’s because, as his basketball coach Tim Ellis put it, “no challenge is too big for Ladd McConkey.” On Feb. 5, National Signing Day, McConkey did, indeed, sign a letter of intent to play for the Bulldogs. McConkey, listed as a three star receiver by Rivals.com, is expected to compete for playing time at receiver and, most likely, kick returner. “You talk about him as a freshman, he weighed 110 pounds,” said North Murray football coach Preston Poag. “Now, all the big schools are after him. All the football stuff is great — he has done a lot of special things — but the person he is is what will carry him. I mean that by his hard work, playing with a chip on his shoulder, just getting after it every day. It has carried him along in high school and he’ll have to keep that up at one of the best teams and programs in the country. He will work his tail off and be successful.” During the season, McConkey played quarterback for the Mountaineers. He rushed for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns while passing for 1,771 yards and 20 touchdowns. McConkey led the Mountaineers to an 11 win season, their first Region 6-AAA title, and a trip to the quarterfinals. McConkey had received interest from schools like South Alabama, Jacksonville State, Mercer, and others before Georgia came into the picture. Georgia coach Kirby Smart came to town several weeks ago to watch McConkey play with the Mountaineer basketball team. Courting began in earnest after that and, despite getting some looks from other SEC schools, McConkey decided on the Dawgs. “It’s amazing to be signing with the University of Georgia,” McConkey said. “They’re prestigious both academically and athletically. It really is something special.” McConkey will once again have to prove himself at the University of Georgia like he did as an undersized freshman at North Murray. It didn’t take him very long to do that, however, as he’s been a mainstay in the Mountaineer starting lineup most of his high school career at one positon or another. He will take his talent, work ethic, and what has been described as an iron will into camp with the Dawgs and see what happens. “It’s like anything else,” he said. “I’ll go at it with a full head of steam and put everything I have into it. That’s all I can do and everything else will play out how it plays out.” McConkey said he is leaning toward a finance otball once basketball season comes to an end, conditioning, lifting, and looking to bulk up a few pounds. He’s listed at 6’, 180 lbs by Rivals, though he is closer to 165 lbs. While Georgia’s Smart gave McConkey no guarantees, he will be able to compete for a shot at the field as a freshman. “He says I will have every opportunity to come in and play,” McConkey said. “I have to make the most of it, being physically ready, and mentally ready. It’s a whole new level and I realize that so I will have to come ready and prepared.” McConkey is the third North Murray player in two years to sign with a major FBS program. Last year, Luke Griffin signed at Missouri and this season McConkey’s teammate Chaisen Buckner inked with Navy during the early signing period. It’s something that the North Murray family is very proud of, according to principal Maria Bradley. “We are so excited for all of Ladd’s opportunities,” said Bradley, herself a Georgia grad. “Ladd is a kid, too, that will seize an opportunity. He had some offers from other places, yet he realized the extent that Georgia went to and the courtesy they offered him and the opportunities they were giving him. They really courted him and he decided to go with the person who wanted him the most. It’s a great school.”

 

 

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