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    Independence’s Casey McGhee kicks off future

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    Independence senior Casey McGhee on Saturday announced his commitment to continue his education and football career at the University of Northern Iowa.

    “Having the opportunity to compete at the college level has always been a dream of mine, so to make that dream true is unbelievable,” McGhee said. “It really took a while for me to calm down after giving Coach (Mark) Farley my verbal; just a lot of excitement and fulfillment.”

    McGhee’s path to UNI had plenty of twists and turns as he spent much of his time in high school trying to determine if he’d attempt to play soccer or football in college.

    It was last year when he set his sights on kicking in college and he worked overtime trying to find a good fit.

    “Being late to choosing a sport for college made it a very difficult and long journey,” he said. “The first thing I did when I decided on football was I got my junior highlight film together thinking that would be enough to find me a good fit school. What I didn’t realize is the majority of schools had already been talking to three or four kickers, getting other kids on campus and started offering. So, then I started to get out to kicking specialist camps to get my name out faster. While I was going to camps and getting my film on Twitter and sent through email, I really started to focus on my upcoming senior season. During my senior year, I tried to get on as many (game day) visits as possible, but playing soccer also made it so I could only get to three schools.”

    McGhee had a connection to Northern Iowa which led him to reach out to the coaching staff earlier this month.

    “Northern Iowa is my grandmother’s alma mater so I tried to get connected with their coaches after my senior season,” he said. “UNI became one of my top schools on March 3. I had sent out an email to their coaching staff and left a message for Coach Farley on the phone the day before. I was walking into baseball practice and felt my phone ringing, I got my phone out, read the caller ID, and tried to answer but the call ended before I answered. I called the number back and luckily Coach Farley answered. We talked just about what I was looking for and he had me get my film sent to him. Later that night, we called again and he invited me down on campus so I took that opportunity and got down there on March 6.”

    That campus visit sealed the deal for McGhee.

    “On my visit, everything really stood out,” he said. “The school had the major I want to pursue–construction management–they have a storied football team that plays incredible competition and produces NFL athletes. The size is exactly what I wanted, 15,000-plus, the community loves the school, and you see UNI colors everywhere. Their facilities—athletic and academic–are incredible, which is really nice and made me super excited. The coaches I met with and players I have talked with really showed a love for the game, showed they can and will help me, also were really approachable and didn’t hide things from me. Coach Farley had a great conversation with me and Coach (Brandon) Keith gave me a great tour, which really gave me the self-confirmation.”

    McGhee has worked hard to develop his skills as a field goal and kickoff specialist.

    In his career, he converted 12-of-15 field goal attempts with a long of 44 yards and drilled 95-of-96 point-after tries. He missed his first-ever attempt and then hit 95 straight.

    He also kicked off 128 times for 6,398 yards and recorded 30 touchbacks as a senior.

    For his efforts, he earned first-team All-Ohio honors once, second-team All-Ohio honors twice, and was a four-time first-team all-district honoree. He also earned first-team all-conference honors three times and was a one-time second-team honoree. He also earned four all-academic awards and was a member of the 2021 Chagrin Valley Conference All-Academic team.

    Despite his success in high school, McGhee knows the stakes are much higher in college.

    “Currently, I am focusing on really hitting the weight room while also getting some light form kicks in and get a feel for the ball back,” he said. “I am going to work extremely hard to get myself ready for camp and I won’t stop working then. I think there’s a lot of growth going to happen this summer with me just focusing on kicking and getting into the weight room.”

    McGhee’s recruitment turned out with a happy ending but a lot of work and patience was required.

    What he learned throughout the process is something other athletes can lean on as they chase down their dreams.

    “My advice is to work harder than you think is hard and never give up,” McGhee said. “Don’t (work hard) just when you’re on the field or court, but work outside of practice time. I encourage younger athletes to get on Twitter, email, text and start reaching out to schools your sophomore year. Try to make connections with any coach you can, you never know what school you will end up at. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I have sent hundreds, if not a thousand, of un-responded messages to coaches; you just can’t ever give up. All it takes is one coach to give you an opportunity to do what you love.”

     

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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