COULMBIA | A few years ago, long before he grew into one of the state's top quarterbacks, Dimonic McKinzy was just a skinny eighth grader set to enter high school.
However, the physical gifts he is lauded for now – like his speed and a strong right throwing arm – were evident even then, apparently, because McKinzy remembers Missouri assistants David Yost and Andy Hill taking notice at a football camp held at William Jewell.
“Missouri was the first school that started looking at me,” McKinzy said.
And Missouri’s early interest in the soon-to-be junior quarterback could pay off in a big way. After a brilliant sophomore campaign in which he led University Academy to a 7-4 record and a berth in the Missouri Class 1 playoffs, McKinzy - who recently added Nebraska to his list of scholarship offers, along with Iowa and Minnesota – spoke highly about his home-state school on Friday, though it has yet to offer him.
“I just like the coaches,” said McKinzy, who completed 167 of 268 passes for 2,728 yards, 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and rushed for 830 yards and 14 touchdowns on 115 carries last season. “They are real cool, real down to earth.”
Former University Academy coach Damon Paul, who recently took an assistant coaching job at the University of Central Missouri, is helping McKinzy through the recruiting process and is optimistic a Missouri offer is coming. He said McKinzy - a varsity starter since his freshman year - visited Missouri’s team camp on Thursday and had a productive workout.
“He threw the ball and worked with the other QBs,” Paul said. “They wanted to see him throw the out route.”
Paul added that Missouri’s coaches have asked McKinzy and his father to make an unofficial visit to campus in July, after which they will decide whether to offer.
The gesture meant a lot to McKinzy.
“They are the only school that asked my dad to come back for a second time,” McKinzy said.
But in the meantime, Paul said McKinzy has a visit to Ohio State planned for June 23. He’s advised his star pupil to make a quick decision – schools have a limited number of scholarships available for quarterbacks on a year-to-year basis and they tend to fill quickly – which means a decision could come this summer, though he won't graduate until 2014.
However, Paul added that McKinzy will likely to wait to see whether Missouri or Ohio State offers before committing anywhere.
“He’s attracted to the SEC,” Paul said, “and the Big Ten is right underneath that. He wants to play against the best kids in the country.”
And Paul has little doubt he can hang with them. He would know - though University Academy plays in Missouri's smallest class, he did send star quarterback Darenn White to Wyoming in 2009. White, however, was a little smaller than McKinzy and ended up playing cornerback for the Cowboys.
Paul added that McKinzy checked in at 6 feet, 206 pounds at a recent camp, which should eliminate any concerns about whether he has the size to play quarterback at the Division 1 level. He noted that several six-footers have gone on to have terrific college careers, including Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, Virginia Tech's Michael Vick and, of course, Missouri's Chase Daniel.
“Dimonic and Russell Wilson are the same type of quarterback,” said Paul, who added that Wilson posted particularly gaudy numbers last season. “I don’t think it will hold Missouri back from offering.”
And for what it’s worth, McKinzy is confident he could thrive in a similar manner in Missouri’s spread attack.
“I like their offense,” McKinzy said. “I know (I could do well there) because of Chase Daniel.”
And don’t think McKinzy hasn’t noticed the recruiting class Missouri has been putting together. Though he will graduate from high school a year after the growing crop of ’13 commits – Missouri already has 13 verbals, nine of which are in-state – he says it’s important to him to play for a school that values homegrown talent.
“They recruit inside and outside the state, and that’s what I like,” McKinzy said. “They give local student athletes a chance."
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