SCOTT TAYLOR, MyToba.ca
Jayden McKoy was Brian Dobie’s biggest recruit in 2013. Now, after a year of red-shirting with the University of Manitoba Bisons football team, Dobie has to figure out what to do with one of the best young football players in Canada.
It isn’t a bad problem. It’s not like McKoy won’t start at some defensive secondary position this year. It’s just that Dobie has so many options, he isn’t sure where McKoy will fit in. At least, not yet.
When the Bisons open their 2014 training camp later this month, McKoy will have a major impact on what happens to the Bisons’ defensive secondary.
“The biggest question we have back there is what do we do with Jayden McKoy?” said Dobie candidly. “He can play safety, boundary half or seal corner. So we have to decide, do we build the other blocks first and fit Jayden in where we need him or do we give Jayden a position and build around him?”
McKoy is a special player. Although only 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds (maybe), the teenaged speedster can play three positions in the defensive secondary as well as quarterback, running back and receiver. He can even return kicks and punts. In fact, that was his primary job with Team Canada at the World Under-19 championship in Kuwait.
It was an experience that McKoy said he will never forget.
“After defeating Austria, we had accomplished our first goal: make it to the gold-medal game,” McKoy said. “Turns out the U.S. had also run through their competition in the same fashion as us, and so it was a rematch of the 2012 finals.
“Unfortunately, we could not come home world champions, but every one of us, players and coaches included, were given the experience of a lifetime.”
McKoy believes the experience will make him a better football player and a more worldly individual.
“I’m grateful to have been coached by great coaches, and to play and bond with some of the best football players in the country,” he said. “Being able to spend time overseas, for the first time ever, to play football and represent my country, is an opportunity not very many people get. It was a time I’ll never forget.”
There is little doubt McKoy is ready to play regularly at the U of M this season. After spending the entire 2013 campaign practising but not playing, the honours engineering student is excited to wear a uniform every week this fall.
“Sitting out really wasn’t all that hard,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I needed time to develop. But I practised every day and I was always around the players, learning more about the game.
“I was told the week before our first game that I’d be red-shirting and it was hard at first, but I understood. So every day, I showed up, played my role and looked at it as an opportunity to get better. And it was fun to be around the guys. They were all great guys and great teammates. I might not have played but I had fun.”
McKoy could very well be the most gifted Bison freshman in decades. And even though he didn’t play in his first season, the next five seasons could produce something quite amazing. In 2013, Bisons head coach Brian Dobie called him “the best high school football player in Manitoba,” and when he won the offensive MVP at the Winnipeg High School Football League’s Senior Bowl — as the quarterback on the team that lost the game 22-4 — it was obvious Dobie wasn’t being hyperbolic.
In a couple of weeks, we’ll see what his season of all-practice-no-play did to prepare him for an important campaign as a first-year starter on defence.