Archive for Saturday, October 7, 2000

Seminoles to test Miami

Hurricane lineman hopes to slow Florida State’s Reynolds

October 7, 2000


— Bryant McKinnie hasn't given up a sack.

Not this season, not in his college career.

Not ever.

"I'm trying to maintain that, too," he said.

It won't be easy.

McKinnie, Miami's starting left tackle, probably has the toughest assignment today as the No. 7 Hurricanes (3-1) host top-ranked Florida State (5-0). He has to block Seminoles defensive end Jamal Reynolds, who has 10 sacks this season.

"It's a big week for Big Mac," guard Greg Laffere said.

Everyone knows it, especially McKinnie.

"As long as I stay focused and play my game, I'll come out the better man," said McKinnie, a 6-foot-9, 330-pound junior from New Jersey.

McKinnie is fairly confident for someone who has played football for only five years, including three on offense. But in such a short span, he's convinced just about everyone of his ability.

"He could potentially be a first-round draft choice as an offensive left tackle," said Hurricanes coach Butch Davis. "He's massive and he's quick, but he's still a puppy."

McKinnie was 130 pounds in third grade, about 40 pounds heavier than other boys his age. He was too big to play football, exceeding the weight limit imposed by his league in Woodbury, N.J.

"It was never really an issue for me," he said.

Instead, McKinnie just played basketball.

His quick feet, soft hands and enormous wing span made him quite a center. He played two years in high school, continuing to grow to the point where his coaches and father thought he might be better suited to play football.

So in 11th grade after spending two fall seasons playing the bass drum in the school band McKinnie joined the football team.

He made an instant impact.

McKinnie was a standout defensive lineman as a junior and senior. He signed with Iowa in 1997.

But he was academically ineligible to attend Iowa, so McKinnie enrolled at Lackawanna Junior College in Scranton, Pa. He was quickly moved to offense, where he excelled at pass blocking.

He didn't allow a sack as a two-year starter. And he hasn't allowed one through four games this season.

But this certainly will be his biggest test.

"Whenever you mention Florida State, you know they are going to have a great defensive line and have two werewolves at defensive end," right tackle Joaquin Gonzalez said.

This year is no different with Reynolds and David Warren.

"I don't think there's any getting ready for what you're going to see Saturday," said offensive line coach Art Kehoe. "Basically they line up and say, 'You ain't nothing, we're going to kick your teeth out of your mouth.' Every play, they're lining up and saying, 'Look, here we are. We're not moving.'

"And you better learn to do something about it."

McKinnie might have the ability to stop Reynolds. His long arms make it tough for defensive linemen to get around him. His quick feet make it easy for his to pick up line stunts. And his sheer size makes make it nearly impossible for him to be pushed around in the trenches.

"He's going to get a great education this Saturday," Davis said. "He'll learn more this Saturday then he's learned in the last six months."

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