ANTHEM, AZ – Ryan McKinley took the call he had been dreaming about for years on Saturday. The former Grizzly cornerback quickly signed a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans after the NFL draft.
McKinley didn’t play much his first four years at Montana, but as a senior, the 6’1 native of Anthem, Arizona became a shutdown corner, leading the Big Sky Conference with 15 passes defended. When he wasn’t selected in the draft McKinley didn’t have time for disappointment, because the Titans came calling right away.
“We had the expectation of maybe getting drafted in the seventh or sixth round,” stated McKinley. “But we didn’t think that was the end-all. We knew a free agent deal would probably be the best thing. When it came down to it we knew that the Titans were going to be the best fit, and they were the first to call. So I accepted it right on the spot.”
McKinley admitted when his senior season ended he didn’t know if he’d ever get to play football again. But after months working out in Denver, the late-bloomer started to believe the NFL was a possibility.
None of his preparation, however, prepared him for the moment when his life-long dream became a reality.
“At first I was speechless,” admitted McKinley. “Because I had my best friend, who is a University of Montana grad, he was with me. And I had my older brother and my parents. Having them all around to experience that moment, it was just really cool just to share with them. Yeah, getting that call was nerve-wracking, because right when he called I didn’t know what team it was or anything. Then I answered it and accepted the deal. And now I’m a Tennessee Titan and I can’t wait to get to work.”
McKinley said he was also talking to his hometown Arizona Cardinals during the draft process, but he feels confident he can make the Titans roster next season.