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10 plays by Grayson McCall: The start of something special
Seaside Joe 1153: The countdown to McCall's NFL career hits the one-year-away mark
I started writing something this morning about running back draft value vs quarterback draft value (is it actually any worse value/more risk to take a RB on day 2 than it is to take a QB on day 1? The answer will surprise some of those Twitter folks who will refuse to acknowledge it anyway) but I think we’re all a little exhausted by those arguments, aren’t we?
Those results will be forthcoming, as well as vast caverns of coverage on Seattle’s newest players (my overall grade on Pete and John’s draft is that we don’t talk about grades right after the draft), but I’m also very excited that Seaside Joe’s mascot—Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall—is now one year shy of making it into the NFL.
Last April, I broke ground on McCall coverage by writing this exhaustive piece about his background as a North Carolina high school QB recruit being overshadowed by five-star Sam Howell, and his first year as an elite college quarterback in 2020. Then I posted a follow-up in December highlighting why he would return to Coastal for another season and that coming off of a record-breaking campaign for the Chanticleers, he’s still in line for that “Zach Wilson breakout” year that I predicted months earlier.
When I started covering McCall, I was hopeful that there could be a path towards putting him on the Seahawks, but expected Russell Wilson to spend many more years in Seattle. When the Seahawks traded Wilson, I immediately cautioned fans against expecting the team to draft a quarterback in 2022 and encouraged everyone to be over the moon excited about the QB class of 2023.
That class is headlined by Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, understandably so, but it’s the depth that makes it special. Some will pitch you Will Levis, but I’ve yet to feel goosebumps when watching Levis play. Others will pitch you Anthony Richardson, but he’s yet to really show that the he’s deserving of the hype after only 64 throws (and five interceptions) last season. The goofs at PFF have Tanner McKee in their top-10 mock draft for 2023, but McKee has had multiple chances to prove he’s worthy of being a five-star recruit and he only got worse as 2021 went on.
Grayson McCall has been EXCELLENT from start to finish, and I am determined to prove it to you. Today we start with the first four games of his career as a college starter at Coastal Carolina. I encourage you to read the first piece about McCall because it helps illustrate just how unlikely his path to the top was from the beginning, but here’s the broad strokes:
Two-star recruit, had very few offers in 2019
Coastal Carolina didn’t even have a football program when he was born in 2000
Coastal didn’t start playing in the FBS until 2017
Entered 2020 offseason as probably fourth or fifth on the depth chart
Coastal picked to finish last in the Sun Belt conference, McCall being named starter to open season was considered a shock to those who follow
McCall led Coastal to undefeated regular season
#1-McCall’s first career rushing touchdown
On the very first drive of his very first start, Grayson McCall immediately established himself as an RPO threat against the Kansas defense. Facing seven-and-7 from the 12, McCall rushes for a touchdown by splitting THREE Jayhawks defenders for the score:
#2-McCall’s proficiency for ball-handling, play fakes, and the option offense
With the Kansas defense committed to stopping McCall as a rushing threat, he commands attention on this goal line play for Coastal Carolina and then masterfully pitches to his running back for an easy score.
Skills like these may only seem complementary to more important aspects of quarterbacking, and they are, but I’m NEVER nervous when the ball is in Grayson McCall’s hands and he must pitch it to a teammate. Whereas with many other QBs, these are the types of plays that can go horribly wrong. With option QBs becoming a thing of the now, McCall’s proficiency for the play fake and the pitch is as good as any who has ever entered the NFL.
#3-McCall shows off touch with a passing TD in the rout
There’s good, there’s great, and then there’s Grayson.
McCall shows perfect touch on this passing touchdown, giving the Chanticleers a 28-0 lead at halftime.
#4-McCall turns Campbell into soup
Obviously when Coastal Carolina plays Campbell, SportsCenter doesn’t tend to give them the top slot of the night. Especially since this is McCall’s second career start and well before anyone knew that Coastal would become a non-power 5 powerhouse over the last two seasons. Facing second-and-8, the pocket collapses around McCall, and as he’s being sacked, flips it to the running back for a first down catch.
These are the exact type of improvisational moments that have made quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson stars of the NFL.
Louisiana only lost one game in 2020. It came against Grayson McCall. This is only a three-yard gain, but McCall remains fearless in the face of immediate pressure.
#6-His passer rating should’ve been even better
I’ve watched every Grayson McCall play of the last two years and plays like this one were all too common. Even having led the NCAA in passing efficiency the last two seasons, McCall’s been robbed of even better numbers because of drops by his receivers.
Has he had many dropped INTs? I pledge to remain fair and honest with McCall’s evaluation and when I find those, I’ll share those. However, I don’t believe that I’ve ever cherrypicked…he simply doesn’t make that many mistakes. He did have one dropped INT vs Louisiana, but it appeared to be tipped at the line of scrimmage.
#7-One throw, Two birds
McCall nearly threw a touchdown pass to his slot receiver, but it’s thrown with enough strength to rip through his hands and to the far receiver instead, making it a third down touchdown and a 20-13 lead for the Chanticleers.
#8-Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge
My favorite college player.
McCall’s night: 17-of-24, 202 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 11 rush, 45 yards, 1 TD, plus leading Coastal Carolina triple-option offense down the field to break a 27-27 tie and deliver Louisiana their only loss of 2020.
#9-Yes, he can bomb it
In a 52-23 rout over Arkansas State, McCall finished 20-of-29 for 322 yards with 4 TDs, 1 INT, and 17 carries for 44 yards. My issue with McCall’s arm is not necessarily strength, but zip. As we highlight his college career and follow his progress next season, I’ll keep an eye on that zip, but there’s really nothing to be worried about with regards to distance. McCall gets 40 air yards of distance on this throw and with relative ease:
Just to be clear, Grayson McCall is a 6’3 Quarterback:
Through his first 4 starts, McCall completed nearly 70-percent of his throw, had 11 passing touchdowns against one interception, and rushed for 184 yards with three more scores. Coastal was 4-0 with a win over Louisiana, but this was only just the beginning.
What are your takeaways from McCall’s first four starts?