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Homecoming: McGue officially joins Bucs

Joe Avento • Aug 15, 2019 at 8:20 PM

Malik McGue’s yearlong journey home became official Thursday as the dynamic former Science Hill football star joined the East Tennessee State team and practiced for the first time after becoming eligible.

McGue transferred from Army and is expected to have two years of eligibility remaining.

“I’m just excited about being a part of this team and what they have going here,” McGue said after his first practice with the Bucs. “I’m eager to be part of this program, eager to learn.”

McGue was a quarterback in high school and that was his original position at Army. He also returned kicks and was switched to receiver. He spent his first day on ETSU’s practice field working with the running backs, although Bucs coach Randy Sanders said it was too early to predict McGue’s final position.

“It’s hard to say right now because he’s only been with us for a couple hours,” Sanders said. “I think he can do a number of things. He’s obviously returned kicks and he’s played some quarterback. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands and there’s no reason to think he can’t catch it.

“Whether he’s a running back, whether he’s a wide receiver, whether he’s a quarterback or a kick returner or whether he’s just a slash and does a little bit of everything, I don’t care. I just hope he’s as good with the ball in his hands as I think he can be.”

McGue, 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds, was the Johnson City Press’ Northeast Tennessee co-player of the year in 2014, joining Elizabethton running back Ethan Thomas for the top award on the annual Elite 11 team. He holds numerous school records at Science Hill, including 8,679 all-purpose yards and 53 touchdowns. In high school, he passed for 3,920 yards, rushed for 2,491 and wracked up 1,200 more receiving.

“It’s good to have him out here,” Sanders said. “He has some athleticism. He’s played college football. I’m anxious to see what he can do. I like what I saw in his high school film. I like what I saw when he was at Army.”

At Army, McGue appeared in nine games as a freshman, rushing for 150 yards on 19 carries. His longest run was a 41-yard touchdown effort against Lafayette. He also had a 32-yard run against Notre Dame, and completed 4 of 6 passes for 76 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown against UTEP.

McGue, who sat out what would have been his sophomore year at Army due to academics, says he’s not concerned about which position he plays at ETSU.

“I think they’re kind of experimenting with me,” he said. “Right now, it’s about learning the playbook, learning as much as I can. Until I learn what I’m doing, I don’t know what position I’ll be playing.

“I definitely want the ball in my hands. That’s the best part about football.”

McGue said he didn’t immediately start thinking about coming home when he decided to leave Army during his sophomore year.

“Not necessarily right away,” he said. “That’s why I appreciate Coach Sanders and Coach (Mike) Rader sticking with me. The situation I was in, it was difficult to win over some coaches. I had to get my grades right, get my situation better. Through the whole process, they were one of the few that were with me the whole way and I appreciate that.”

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