Redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray had a bit of a coming out party for the Florida Gators on Saturday, grabbing his first career interception, causing another with his pass rush and hitting the opposing quarterback hard on two separate occasions.
He was awarded Defensive Player of the Game honors by head coach Will Muschamp on Monday and even earned an honorable mention from the Southeastern Conference for his outstanding efforts.
“Lerentee McCray played an outstanding game. He’s got a great motor, a guy that plays hard all the time. [He caught] a big interception and then caused an interception for Matt Elam later in the game. [He] continues to play well for us, gives us a lot of good rush on the edge,” Muschamp said.
“Lerentee works extremely hard. He is a guy that is always in the weight room, always up with Dan [Quinn] wanting to watch extra film. He does the little things it takes to be successful. It’s very important to him. He’s a passionate guy. He plays hard, plays with great effort. A guy that gives everything he’s got, and it’s really, really important to him playing at Florida.”
Moved into the starting Sam linebacker role as a redshirt junior in 2011, McCray looked to be one of the team’s better defenders early in the season until a shoulder injury knocked him out for the final four games.
Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic saw flashes from McCray last year and is not surprised that he has once again stepped up and played a major role this season.
“He has been doing it all along,” Bostic said. “If he wouldn’t have got hurt last year, he started off the season pretty much playing the best on defense. He had to get hurt; we wish he wouldn’t have gotten hurt. Coming back from the injury, we knew that he was going to be back to the old Lerentee. He just had to get his feet in the ground. He pretty much can do it all – he can drop in coverage, he can rush the quarterback, he’s physical. He’s pretty much everything you want in a player.”
An injury was not the only obstacle McCray has had to overcome. In speaking with the media on Monday, he explained that his family situation has provided plenty of inspiration or him as a football player.
“It definitely motivated me. I have a lot of motivation just coming from the family that I come from. That’s just a little extra motivation,” he said. “My mom, I just come from a single-parent home. My older brother, who I looked up to, went to jail when I was in high school and he’s still locked up to this day. [I] just had to step up and kind of be the man of my house.”
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