Kyle McCord waited for months to throw a football in a competitive setting before the chance arrived last week at the Elite 11 finals.
He didn’t show much rust.
McCord, a five-star quarterback recruit from Philadelphia who has been committed to Ohio State for a year, put together one of the top performances at the camp. He placed second to Caleb Williams, a similarly heralded passer from Washington, for MVP honors.
"Obviously the competitor in me wanted to win it, but the biggest thing for me was to soak up as much knowledge as I could," said McCord, who will be a high school senior this fall. "I felt I put out a pretty strong performance."
At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the fate of the prestigious competition featuring top high school senior quarterbacks seemed uncertain.
Regional events were canceled. The quarterbacks had to submit footage of scripted throwing sessions in order to be invited to the finals. And the final event was relocated from the Dallas Cowboys’ sprawling practice facility in Texas to a high school in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, featuring daily temperature checks and gift bags that included hand sanitizer.
Despite the shortened format, McCord relished a chance to work out in front of coaches, including former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jordan Palmer, who trains NFL draft prospects each winter.
Palmer showed him some warmup drills, and McCord left with a full notebook from other X’s and O’s discussions.
"I just tried to write down literally everything that I heard," he said.
The shutdown this past spring made it difficult for prep prospects to receive much coaching, as other camps or 7-on-7 competitions were canceled. McCord said he used a friend’s garage to lift weights and met with teammates from St. Joseph’s Prep to find local fields to throw passes.
While at the Elite 11, he also picked up some advice from Justin Fields, the Ohio State quarterback who attended as a counselor and was MVP at the event in 2017.
"He just told me to have fun, kind of relax and just let it rip," McCord said.
On Tuesday, McCord won the pro day competition with a score of 45 points, mirroring the performance of another future Buckeyes player, C.J. Stroud, who won the same competition last season en route to taking MVP honors.
A similar finish didn’t quite materialize, but McCord appreciated a chance to take part in the competition, an event he has followed since middle school.
"It was a great moment knowing that my class wouldn’t be the class that was forgotten at the Elite 11," he said.