NEW ORLEANS — There are few secrets when it comes to Racey McMath.
The newly minted LSU wide receiver commit measures 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, and he is built like a piece of iron. While his size stands out, he ran a 4.4-second 40 at the Tigers’ June prospect camp — where he procured his signature offer — then clocked a 4.3 the following day at Mississippi State.
But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to McMath.
Coaches and teammates realized McMath had uncanny potential before he ever played a varsity snap for Edna Karr (La.) High. That’s a testament to his naturally given set of skills and a rather devastating work ethic.
For a wide receiver who has amassed 2,000 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns during the last two seasons, it is head-scratching to meet the person — a humble, soft-spoken giant merely focused on the prize.
The first step toward reaching the aforementioned prize was his commitment to LSU last Friday, giving the Tigers an outstanding physical wide receiver with grit, focus and a serious hunger (we’ll get to that shortly).
As McMath prepares to leave Algiers to head west up Interstate 10 to Baton Rouge, those closest to him know the ceiling he has.
“What separates him is that he doesn’t like the glitz and the glamour,” Karr head coach Brice Brown told SEC Country. “A lot of them (great Karr wide receivers) were real prima donnas; they liked the stardom that came with being Edna Karr football players. Racey shied away from it. He didn’t want to wear No. 2, which is a special number for players at our school. We forced it upon him, and he just embraced it.”
New Orleans’ Megatron
Megatron is mumbled in and throughout the hallways of Karr when referencing McMath, and, sure, it’s a bit of a joke. But there’s a hard piece of trust to this, too.
The big-bodied wide receiver already would be the third-tallest receiver on LSU’s current roster, and, at 215 pounds (and growing), is the second heaviest.
Combine his size with his deceptive speed, and that’s a recipe for eye-popping production.
As a junior — in a reserve role — McMath hauled in 49 receptions for 946 yards. Last season as Karr’s No. 1 option in the passing game, McMath had 37 grabs but more than 1,000 yards receiving. McMath found the end zone 16 times, and 7 of those touchdowns were on plays of 60 yards or more.
So, yes, his size, speed and athleticism have made for quite the mismatch.
“I know it’s rare because I break a lot of tackles,” McMath told SEC Country. “I know it as soon as they (cornerbacks) line up in front of me. It’s easy for me to get open. I’m already a big target, so for me to create separation and be a big target, it’s easy for me to catch the ball, and it’s easy for quarterbacks. It also brings the defense toward me, so it gives opportunities to other players on offense, too.
“I can do everything a receiver would want to do. I still need to polish up a lot of my routes and make ’em more smooth, but I can catch, block, run routes, make spectacular plays, make spectacular blocks. I’m not a selfish player; I’m everything a receiver would want.”
Former LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was in Algiers last spring and saw what McMath was capable of. He wanted to offer him on the spot.
Cameron felt the same way a few weeks later when McMath attended the Tigers’ June prospect camp and dominated in 1-on-1s and again in 7-on-7 action. Though other members of the coaching staff were reluctant to listen, McMath gave them no choice.
A 4.4-second 40 sealed the deal, leading to McMath’s offer, one he had been clamoring for since his junior season. But McMath flaunted other intangibles at the camp, too.
The New Orleans product dominated the competition and proved to be the top wide receiver on the field. McMath bullied opposing defensive backs, some of whom boasted the impressive offer sheets that still eluded him.
McMath had to impress. After all, he’s Megatron, and despite a quiet demeanor in the classroom and in the halls, he’s an absolute terror when it comes to his craft.
“He really is a transformer,” Brown laughed. “He’s the most humble kid you will ever meet. He’s quiet, he doesn’t talk a lot, but on the field he transforms to compete at the highest level. Sometimes, we’ll tell him to be quiet. He likes to talk on the field when he doesn’t like to talk off the field. That’s the sort of edge that college recruiters like — a guy who plays with a spark and a little bit of pizzazz.”
Appetite for destruction
It’s a commonality in the recruiting world today: Many prospects are ready to eat.
That’s usually a metaphor, but in certain cases — like McMath’s — it holds a more literal meaning.
McMath weighs 215 pounds — and only 215 pounds — considering he has an insatiable appetite. It’s not an exaggeration, either. McMath admits that if not for a strict workout regimen, he might have been an offensive tackle.
Consider this: During Mississippi State’s camp, McMath polished off a full seven-topping pizza and half of his teammate’s. The two were supposed to split 30 wings, but McMath handled those on his own.
On a visit to Memphis, McMath, four teammates and two coaches ordered 200 wings. He managed 30 of them, along with fries and some Gatorade.
“He’s a tremendous eater,” Brown said. “He’s been all over this country, and he’s left his mark. He’s left his mark on Popeye’s. He’s left his mark everywhere.”
McMath suggests he gets his appetite from his mother.
In some ways, landing at LSU assures he’ll get his fill at mealtime, which, according to those close to him, is about every 3 hours.
Even McMath admits that if not for a strict workout regimen and fast metabolism, he might have been an offensive tackle.
That workout schedule is five days a week, comprised of three days of lifting and two more of stretching, for at least 40 minutes per day. McMath never misses an opportunity in the weight room. It’s been a staple in his life since his mother purchased his first weight bench when he was 13.
“When I was 13, I had a weight bench and 100 pounds,” McMath recalled. “I was just lifting weights to show I was getting bigger. When I got here, it was harder, but I was still stronger than the average ninth-grader. I was getting stronger each year. I just love lifting weights. It’s not hard at all.”
Certainly, the hours inside the gym have helped negate the multiple pizzas and 30 wings McMath consumes when he’s out.
It also pays dividends on the field.
McMath emphasizes his arms and his legs — which is normal — but also his grip. The receiver not only boasts an edge with his speed and his size but also feels he can dominate opposing defensive backs because of his strength when it comes to blocking downfield and making grabs.
“It helps with blocking, with getting faster,” McMath said. “I break a lot of tackles because of the weights, and I’m a good blocker because of them. Also, it’s my grip. My fingers are strong. My hands are strong.”
From 3332 Huntlee to Death Valley
Speedy Noil engineered Karr to a Louisiana Class 4A state championship in 2012, ending the program’s 19-year drought.
For that, Noil always will go down as one of the legends in the Karr record books.
The all-world quarterback for the Cougars, a 5-star recruit, proceeded to Texas A&M as part of a loaded 2014 Louisiana recruiting class, which also featured big-time prospects including Leonard Fournette (LSU), Malachi Dupre (LSU) and Cameron Robinson (Alabama).
When Noil returned home in the fall of his freshman season, he swung by his old stomping grounds to check out the young Karr football team. There, he noticed a rather-large sophomore wide receiver, who was dominating the JV ranks.
Noil took the young prospect off to the side and chatted him up. The theme of that message: “You’re next.”
“Speedy came for a game at Karr, and he saw me balling,” McMath said, smiling. “After the game, he spoke to me 1-on-1. He told me: ‘You’re going to be great one day,’ and he gave me his gloves.”
The passing of the torch is metaphorical, but the passing of gloves is tangible.
For one of the best in Karr football history to see something in McMath lit up a flame underneath the young wide receiver. It helped create a standard for him to live up through the remainder of his high school career.
“I knew that he knew something because Speedy was a great player, so for him to see something in me, I knew that I could be great one day,” McMath said. “I took that seriously, and I worked hard for it.”
Like Noil, McMath was an All-State selection in 2016 and also helped Karr nab a state championship. Like Noil, McMath donned the No. 2, which was requested by the coaching staff.
As Brown put it, the team could have made it to the title game without McMath, but it never could hoist the trophy without him.
McMath isn’t just in the conversation as one of the best wide receivers to come through 3332 Huntlee Drive; it centers around him.
To leave his mark on the Karr football program is nothing McMath takes lightly, either. He’s just hoping to continue to build on that next fall in Tiger Stadium and leave a similar lasting impact in his college career.
“A lot of coaches told me that I’d be the best wide receiver to come through here, that I’d be better than Speedy,” McMath said. “Speedy told me to get to that point and he did amazing things on the field, so for people to say that I’m better than him, I know all of the hard work paid off.”
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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