McAfee quietly gets the job done on and off the field

October 28, 2005 · MT Media Relations
Nick McAfee doesn't get a lot of credit or find himself in the spotlight for his blocking, pass protection and relentless pursuit of excellence on the football field. It's the life of a fullback, at just about any level of the game.

Just because McAfee, Middle Tennessee's 6-foot senior, isn't in the limelight doesn't mean he hasn't enjoyed his share of accomplishments for the Blue Raiders.

A threat in the backfield as a bullying blocker with tenacious strength, coupled with excellent pass-catching skills, McAfee has been a constant for the Blue Raiders since first stepping on the field against Alabama in 2002. He's been there every game since.

Durability is an obvious asset as McAfee has played in all 40 games of his college career. He hasn't missed a game because of a nagging injury or illness. He's proven to be a quality person on whom Middle Tennessee can rely.

"Nick McAfee is a great young man and he's made contributions to our program, no doubt," Middle Tennessee head coach Andy McCollum said. "He's come a long way during his time here and it's been fun watching him mature into a young man who is going to be very successful in life."

For all of McAfee's accomplishments on the field, his greatest feat at Middle Tennessee occurred when he earned a degree in Liberal Arts and took part in graduation ceremonies last August.

By graduating in four years, McAfee, who enrolled at Middle Tennessee as a non-qualifier in 2001, earned his fifth year and is making the most of every day, whether on the practice or game field.

"A lot of people didn't think I would do anything, so for me to get my degree, it's a great accomplishment, and I'm grateful to coach Mac and this University for giving me the chance to prove myself," McAfee said. "During the summer when I was taking the final classes I had to have to graduate, I was very focused. I was very serious about study hall and getting it done, and I was rewarded."

Arlene McAfee, Nick's mother, was not among those who doubted his ability to succeed. In fact, Nick says the support of his mother and father, Alfred, is a driving force in his life. Even as he's grown into a young man and is away from his Marietta, Ga., home, mom still has her say.

"My mom is my support and backbone. She stays on me and sometimes I don't like it, but it's for the best," Nick said. "She's my rock. My mom taught me growing up that you may think you have it bad, but someone else has it worse. I always took that to heart when I wanted to start feeling bad for myself."

McAfee started his senior season in style when he scored Middle Tennessee's only touchdown in a 26-7 loss at Alabama. The score pulled the Blue Raiders to within 9-7 at the time, which was the score at the half. It was McAfee's second career touchdown reception. He has four catches for 32 yards through the team's first six games. He also was instrumental in opening holes for key first downs on Middle Tennessee scoring drives during their 17-15 win at Vanderbilt.

"Nick has great hands and he has become a physical fullback," McCollum said. "He's a big part of our offense in a lot of different ways, but you don't always recognize how much he's doing to help us because he's not getting all the yards or receptions, but Nick plays a big role in what we do."

The determined McAfee also plans to have a big role in what the Blue Raiders expect to do. The quiet leader says Middle Tennessee still has a chance to do something special in 2005 and he expects to leave the program on a positive note.

"We want to make this season a special one and we still believe we can do that," McAfee said. "At no point have we discussed changing our goals, and we won't. We have to keep pushing ourselves and pushing one another, and we have to keep coming to work with the right frame of mine. Yeah, we have had some tough losses, but I think we have learned from them and continue to grow as a team."

McAfee says he can't believe his college career is now down to just a handful of remaining games. Time flies when you're having fun.

"Time has flown," McAfee said. "It seems like I just came here a couple days ago and now there are just a couple months left. It does go fast and I try to tell folks to make the most of it, but the young guys don't really want to listen to that. When you leave home you don't want to be told what to do because you think you are a man. I've been there, but I try to talk to these young guys in a positive way because you have to understand to make the most of it and enjoy it, but it's also important to take your schoolwork seriously and earn that degree. A lot of people would love to have the same opportunities we do."

McAfee certainly has made the most of his at Middle Tennessee.

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