Leaning on crutches and hanging around the trainer's cart at Mainland High's football practice Thursday at Daytona Beach, Kevin McCrary just kind of blended into the scene.
The Bucs' star freshman defensive end is nursing a high-ankle sprain that will only keep him sidelined for a few more days. When he steps back on the other side of the white line is when he stops blending in.
"That's our big-timer right over there," Mainland head coach Scott Wilson said while pointing at McCrary. "He has a USC offer already as a freshman. He's a beast."
He may not look the part, baby-faced and brace-toothed, but put a helmet and pads on the 6-foot, 235-pounder and he uncorks a ferocious, quarterback-seeking assault that few offensive lineman were able to stop during his first season on the varsity.
"I just do my job .. do what they tell me to do," McCrary said.
A coach's dream and it's that coach-ability that has USC on board with others surely to come calling soon.
"I talked to one of the [USC] coaches. I was playing basketball at the time and he was there," said the soft-spoken McCrary. "He was talking to me and was like, 'You're a freshman?' and I said, 'Yeah," ... but I didn't know they were going to send an offer.
"It just really surprised me. I didn't know it was going to come."
He had an impressive rookie campaign, but he shrugs it off.
"I had an OK season," said McCrary, who had some key seniors to learn from this past year in a pair of Kent State signees Wayne Scott and Jontey Byrd, as well as offensive lineman Keilan Jones, quarterback/slot receiver Cameron Hadley and USC-bound linebacker Quinton Powell.
He was part a stingy Bucs defense that has become a foundation at Mainland. The Bucs have also laid the groundwork on a pipeline that keeps producing for Southern Cal. Powell signed in February as part of the 2013 USC signing class, and in 2012 defensive end Leonard Williams inked with the Trojans. Williams had a very successful first season after which he was named the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
He expects to be back on the field at practice on Monday, which brings a smile to his face. Mention rushing quarterbacks and his smile gets even wider. The scary thing is that he's just learning and still growing into his frame and by the time he's a senior, he could be recruited more heavily than Williams or Powell.
He had eight sacks last season, second behind Powell's team-leading 12, and made more than 70 tackles playing defensive end opposite Powell.
Though he's just a rising sophomore, he knows he'll have to grow up fast and establish a bit of a leadership role on the front line with the graduation of so many key players.
"I think I can provide a little bit of that," he said.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun