Football Was Not First Choice for Undrafted Rookie

Mike Hogan

Anthony McKinney never wanted to play football. In fact, he tried his best to avoid it.

As a junior at Harlem High School (Rockford, Ill.), everything changed.

“I didn’t want to play. I actually tried to avoid football for the longest time,” McKinney told the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram in November. “But my high school coaches saw potential in me before I even did. They basically kept asking me to try it out, see if I liked it, so I did.”

Ever since, McKinney, who was a state champion wrestler in high school, has stuck with football. These days the 6-foot-8, 314-pound tackle is with the Tennessee Titans as one of 14 rookie free agents signed after the 2020 NFL Draft.

The journey has not been easy.

After high school, McKinney played two seasons at Iowa Western Community College, where he developed into a four-star prospect who drew offers from 17 Division I schools. He chose TCU over Oklahoma, Georgia, Iowa State and others. He started 20 games at left tackle for the Horned Frogs and was part of an offense that averaged 204 rushing yards per game, third best in the Big 12, last fall.

None of it earned him an invitation to the NFL scouting combine in February or for him to get drafted in April.

Now that he has come this far, though, he intends to keep going as long as he can.

“Just to have the opportunity to be a part of an organization is just enough for me, and Derrick Henry and all the other running backs in the league they’re all elite,” McKinney told “There’s no scrubs in this league so every week you’ve got to produce and put on and it’s a job. It’s going to be one heck of a ride especially once I get in that locker room. I think that’s when it’s really all going to start to kick in.”

As McKinney starts the next step of his football journey, he does not have to gaze too far into the past to see where it all started.

“Just looking back and seeing how far this story has progressed from where I started to where I am now, I’m just only getting started, baby!” he said. “I’m not finished yet.”

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