When Martray McKesson takes the field at McDaniel College in the fall, he won’t just be the first Reginald F. Lewis graduate to play college football – he’ll be the first to play any college sport.
The school’s first athletic recruit in its 10-year existence, McKesson not only excelled on both sides of the ball during the Falcons’ 8-2 football season, he also excelled in the classroom. With his 3.6 GPA, he’s ranked second in his class.
First-year Lewis coach Donte’ Foster said McKesson was an excellent example for his peers in working to overcome a 2-8 season in 2010.
“He works hard, he’s honest, he’s intelligent and not only that, he did anything he could for those young men,” Foster said. “He works. He has a job at McDonald’s and was there for his team on his own time. If you could ask for a person to help with a start up football program, he would be it. Martray was the leader we needed for that transition that helped us get where we needed to be.”
Last fall, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound McKesson played linebacker, defensive end and fullback. He had 41 tackles, seven sacks and two fumble recoveries. He also ran for a touchdown.
McKesson has a simple explanation for his success.
“You’ve got to be disciplined,” he said. “Football is all about discipline. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I had a different coach every year of high school. The coach after my sophomore year, he retired and my junior year, we had another head coach who ended up walking out on us. Coach Foster came in and at our first meeting, he told us, ‘It’s going to be hard work. You’ve got to be men out there.’ He told us we were going to make the playoffs and with a lot of hard work, we did.”
In addition to McDaniel, McKesson said he also considered Florida A&M and Virginia Union, but he liked the curriculum and the athletics at the Westminster school, where he plans to major in business and finance.
“Sports is big,” McKesson said, “but that’s an education-first school. The job rate at the college is 96 percent – 96 percent of the graduates get a job within six months to a year.”
That would get McKesson started on his goal of becoming the CEO of his own company.
Brought up by a single mom, Tearr Creighton, McKesson said she always stressed education first to him and his younger brother.
When he suits up for the Green Terror, McKesson expects to play middle linebacker.
“I can’t wait to step on the field,” McKesson said. “I like middle linebacker because it’s like the captain of the defense. I’m a great leader. I call out what I see and you don’t let nothing get past you.”
With this opportunity, he sure hasn’t so far.