University of Utah Utes
La Mirada, California
Cerritos Junior College
La Mirada High School
A physical presence during his career as a safety, a shoulder injury that wiped out most of his 2011 season and kept him sidelined throughout the 2012 campaign turned this cornerback "neophyte" into an imposing man coverage specialist upon his return to the gridiron in 2013.
The change in positions was actually just a way to ease McGill back into the game of football during 2013 fall camp, but based on his dominance taking on receivers in practices, the coaches decided to make the move permanent and installed their former junior college All-American at left cornerback for the entire season.
While McGill first thought he was a "fish out of water" playing on the outside, he turned into a "ball shark" on the field, earning All-Pac 12 Conference honors while leading the league in pass deflections, as his 12 break-ups rank fourth on the school season-record list. He also ranked second in the conference with 13 passes defended, returning his only interception for a touchdown.
Even though the Utes struggled during a 5-7 campaign in 2013, the coaches can consider their idea of moving their hardest hitter to cover receivers a complete success. But, if you look at McGill's entire football career, he has been quick to adapt to any task that his coaches assign him, anyway. He first began to attract attention from recruiters as a three-sport star at La Mirada High School, where the California product excelled in football, track and basketball.
On the football field, McGill was a jack-of-all trade during his senior season, playing on all three units. On defense, he recorded 20 tackles with an interception. On offense, he carried 75 times for 516 yards (6.88 ypc) and six touchdowns, adding 17 catches for 297 yards (17.47 ypc) and another score. On special teams, he punted 24 times for a 32.17-yard average.
McGill also played both forward positions for the school's basketball team. He averaged 9.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in 26 games as a junior. During his final season, he totaled 156 rebounds (5.6 avg), shot 94-of-202 from the floor (7.7 points per game), handed out 39 assists (1.4 avg) and blocked 25 shots (0.9 avg) in 28 contests.
McGill stepped away from sports for one year before he enrolled at Cerritos Junior College. He would go on to earn All-State and All-Northern Conference honors in each of his seasons starting at safety. As a freshman, he delivered 23 tackles with four pass thefts and three deflections in 11 games during the 2009 campaign.
His sophomore season was perhaps his finest during his college career. McGill was named the Northern Conference's Defensive Player of the Year as well as being recognized as a first-team All-American and All-State selection. He led the team to the league co-title and a berth in the 2010 Southern California Bowl.
McGill led the nation with 203 yards gained via seven interceptions during his sophomore year at Cerritos. He blocked two kicks, including one that came on the final play of the Falcons 27-21 win over Bakersfield College. He also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. In 12 games, he registered 37 tackles and deflected five tosses.
The University of Utah commit was the Utes' prized recruit in 2010, as the staff felt he was a dynamic ball-hawking safety who stood at 6'4?, 214 lbs upon his arrival for fall camp that year, when he also consistently ran 4.35-seconds in the 40-yard dash. He said part of the decision to go to Utah was the school joining what will be known as the Pac-12 Conference.
"Honestly, I would have gone elsewhere if they didn't join the Pac 12," the junior college All-American explained about his decision. "I kept telling the coaches, ‘You've got to join the Pac 12.' Everyone wants to play vs. schools like University of Southern California."
The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Kansas State, University of Montana, New Mexico University, Oregon State University, San Diego State University, and San Jose State University were among the other schools who offered him a scholarship.
Despite being one of the top football prospects to come out of Cerritos College in recent years, McGill was also concerned about his life off of the field. He was raising his young daughter with his girlfriend who plays softball. "We were basically a package deal," he said. I was looking for a place to play football, but I'm also looking at what is best for my family."
Things did not go as planned during the 2011 season, as McGill started just one of the five games he appeared in before being shut down for the rest of the schedule. Surgery for his shoulder was a bigger priority and rehabilitation would force him to sit out the entire 2012 campaign. His debut season at Utah produced just 12 tackles and a pass deflection, certainly not the numbers a four-star junior college transfer had expected.
Since transferring to the more powerful Pac-12 Conference, the University of Utah has not been too successful, compiling a combined 18-19 record in the three seasons in the new league, including back to back 5-7 campaigns the last two years. McGill was one of the few bright spots for the team in 2013. In addition to his pass deflection skills, he has allowed just 12 of 71 passes targeted into his area to be completed (16.90%). The team allowed 59.1% of the opposition's passes to be successful, including 22 touchdowns. None of McGill's coverage assignments ever reached the end zone vs. him in 2013.
In two seasons each at Cerritos College and Utah, McGill appeared in a combined forty games during his college career, earning 34 starts — 22 at free safety and 12 at left cornerback…Recorded 109 tackles (62 solos) with a fumble recovery, two forced fumbles, a pair of blocked kicks and 21 pass deflections…Had 12 interceptions that he returned for 243 yards (20.25 avg) and one touchdown.