In college football, the Power 5 conferences reign supreme and it takes a great amount of talent, effort, consistency and unity for teams outside of the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world to truly gain respect and recognition. Coastal Carolina, with quarterback Grayson McCall, is a team that did just that in 2021, finding their way into the AP Top 25 rankings and finishing out the season at 11-2, rounded out with a 47-41 win over NIU in the Cure Bowl.
There have been a number of factors that have played a role into Coastal’s success, but among the most essential of those is McCall, who garnered a lot of NFL draft buzz as he completed 73% of his passes for 2,873 yards with 27 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Those aren’t just good stats, they’re reflective of the standard that’s been set with the Chanticleers.
“It’s great to be at the level we’re at, but we all know that it took a lot of time and a lot of work to get to this point,” McCall said. “We haven’t always been at the top. We just make sure that these new guys who come in, that they understand that we were 3-9, we used to be 5-5. But when you come together as a team and you work toward one goal, cut out all the distractions, we believe we can be at the top and that we can be at the top this year. We’re G5, we play in a lower conference, but football is football and when it’s time to turn on the lights, the Chants are going to come play.”
McCall was considered a top-five draft-eligible quarterback by many for much of the season and it’s reasonable to believe he could make the transition to the NFL now and bring upgrades to teams.
But despite rumors that he could be making the jump or even try to raise his stock by transferring to a larger program like North Carolina, McCall chose to stay with Chanticleers and that’s where he’ll remain until he’s ready to go on to the next level.
“It was relatively hard (to return) at first just because of all the draft buzz I was getting,” McCall said. “A lot of talk from other schools about me going here and me going there. But ultimately, it was just getting down to, ‘Where is home?’ ‘Where do you enjoy the most? Where do you have the best time with the people around you?’”
Even though a player with the talent and abilities that McCall has could absolutely transfer to a place where he could quiet those who cling to the “lower level competition” narrative, his loyalty is to the program that built him and what he’s put on film will speak for itself.
“Coastal Carolina kind of made me into who I am,” McCall said. “I started here and I want to finish here. I love this school and I love the people here. I love the program and the coaches. I’m right down the road from my family. I want to stay here and I want to leave a legacy here and give this school everything that I have.”
There’s no doubt that McCall will leave a legacy as he’s already made a profound mark on the program, leading the team to a host of impressive wins, including against two ranked teams in 2020, one of which was against No. 13 BYU on College Gameday, when the Chants took down the Cougars, 22-17.
That success stems from McCall quickly picking up the team’s unique triple option offense and running it at maximum efficiency as he’s become one of the most dominant young quarterbacks in college football.
“Just like every other offense, I have a pre-snap process and a post-snap process,” McCall said. “Our run game is a little bit unique. Just understanding the triple option concepts and who to read on different types of option plays, whether it’s a speed option play on the outside or an option play up the middle. Constantly reminding myself and knowing what my responsibilities are pre-snap. Kind of letting my instincts do the rest post-snap. It’s similar to most other systems. The run game is a bit different, but outside of that, it’s a typical post-snap and pre-snap process.”
Despite so many looking ahead to the future of the 2023 draft class and how things could shake out in April of next year for players like McCall, the Chanticleers signal-caller says he is purely focused on the here and now and wants to put another standout season in the books for Coastal.
He’s confident that what he brings to the table will help continue to elevate Coastal’s offense and will serve him well “when the time comes” to go on to the pros.
“I think the Coastal offense translates (to the NFL) very well,” said McCall. “You’re starting to see a lot of quarterbacks in the league who can pass the ball and run the ball very well. A lot of teams are looking to add a weapon like that. It’s unique, a player like me who can do both and I pride myself in standing in the pocket and making the big-time throws, but when stuff breaks down and I have to get out of the pocket or use my legs, it makes it hard for a defense to defend both so I think that’s a unique trait that I have.”
McCall is a quarterback who should transition to the modern NFL well considering the league has a lot of use for passers who can both throw the ball and run. McCall is one of the most electric players to watch, known for his tough, gritty playing style and his get-it-done mentality, regardless of what the circumstances are and what it takes to finish the job.
“I’m a quarterback but I’m also a football player,” McCall said. “I don’t mind the contact, sticking my nose in there and being tough. I like watching guys like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. Their toughness and their grit and the way they extend plays and the way they throw on the run. I don’t model my game off of anyone in particular, but I do like watching those guys.”
Outside of the tangibles, McCall’s ability to rally a team together and bring cohesiveness to a locker room are equally important traits.
“I bring leadership to any team,” he said. “Someone who is going to leave everything they have on the field when they go out there. Someone who enjoys bringing a group together. Someone who loves the game and really enjoys learning more about the game. I’m always trying to grow in every phase that I can. Someone who is fully committed to a goal and a team.”
There’s no doubt an NFL team is going to take full advantage of that as soon as next year, but for now, McCall is taking it one day at a time and is prepared to show he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the nation coming off of shoulder surgery.
“Right now, I’m two months post-surgery, so I’ve really been focusing on my rehab and trying to stay healthy and a personal goal for myself this offseason is just to continue to put on weight and develop my body as much as I can. I’m trying to obviously heal my shoulder and stuff like that, but continuing to grow and develop and get stronger, get faster and let the season take care of itself.”
- May 19, 2022