During the 2019 NFL draft, Kaleb McGary remembers messaging the Atlanta Falcons general manager, congratulating him on the team's first-round pick, Chris Lindstrom, a center from Boston College and the 14th overall selection.
Little did McGary know, he was headed to the same team, which traded up to take him 17 picks later as first-rounder, as well.
“Surprised is an understatement,” he said. “I texted their assistant GM telling them, 'Chris was a great pick you guys are going to love him.' Then, lo and behold an hour later, there I go.”
The NFL has been the continuation of a heartfelt journey for a Northwest lineman who played for the University of Washington after working hard for a scholarship that was necessary to make his dreams come true.
He received his first offer as high school sophomore in Fife, Washington, which morphed into a wide selection by the time he was a senior.
“You need to go to college, get an education,” said Kaleb, repeating what his family always told him. “I knew my parents probably couldn’t afford to pay for it, so I was determined to get myself there.”
His collegiate experience wrapped up nicely as part of two Pac-12 championship teams and the recipient of the Morris Trophy award that goes to the best lineman in the conference.
McGary worked hard for it, staying after practice and going over what he did wrong or could have done better while helping underclassman waiting to take over his spot. He strived to earn the Morris Trophy.
“The last two years I really made it a goal of mine because I believed that I could do it,” McGary said. “But before that I really had no idea. I just didn't want to suck.”
There is so much more to McGary than the Morris Trophy award and being an NFL player.
A story about a small-town 16-year-old high school lineman diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor turned up on Facebook, the teen who was the subject of a GoFundMe page caught Kaleb’s eye.
Instantly, McGary wanted to know what he could do and he set up a meeting. Along with former UW teammate Jesse Sosebee, they visited the teen at Children’s Hospital and presented him with a signed UW jersey, football autographed by the entire team and a pair of game-worn gloves.
The youngster reciprocated two years later at the 2019 Husky Pro Day by giving a his high school football jersey to McGary.
“That was pretty special; I didn’t expect it at all,” McGary said. “He actually stood up out of his wheelchair to give me a hug.”
To get to know Kaleb McGary even more, check out the full video above.