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Big 6-foot-3, physical wide receivers are common nowadays, and so are smaller, quicker slot receivers. What you don't see every day is the best of the both worlds in one receiver. When you add the ability to play running back and return ability, you're looking at a rare athlete, and Niceville's Tyre McCants is just that.
The USF commit played wide receiver, running back, and wildcat quarterback on offense in 2013. He ran for 535 yards and eight touchdowns, and hauled in 55 passes for 798 yards and eight touchdowns. He also handled return duties and played man-to-man coverage as a cornerback.
According to Niceville's running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Adron Robinson, Tyre did more for the Eagles than just fill up the stat sheet.
"Tyre's leadership is one I would describe as emotional," Robinson said. "The players feed off his emotion. When he is extremely amped, teams have had a hard time matching Niceville's passion, hunger, and enthusiasm."
"No better example than our district shoot-out. Not typically vocal, Tyre made sure the team knew what was expected of each player and constantly reminded them over that 12 minutes of nearly flawless execution and focus. Let me add, some of Tyre's pregame chants and antics are legendary at Niceville High School. He gets them pumped."
Niceville made a great run in the Florida 7A playoffs, reaching the state finals in the Citrus Bowl. It was McCants' goal since day one.
"His desire to end his season in Orlando; him and his teammate screamed 'state' after every good workout, good play, or even when just greeting each other. It was a constant reminder to not just go hard, but to do whatever it takes to get there. For Tyre, that meant returning kicks, playing corner and safety when needed such as the Pace game, some wildcat quarterback, running back, or simply blocking one of the top defensive backs in the state of Florida."
Brandon Walker covers high school football for the Northwest Florida Daily News, and watched Tyre throughout his career at Niceville. Walker had very high praises of McCants.
"I've been doing this ten years, and I've seen a lot of explosive players and highlight-reel plays, but I can't remember any player who provided that edge-of-your-seat type play as consistently as Tyre McCants did in 2013. He had three kickoff returns of over 90 yards and six plays over 80 yards. He's the type of player that as soon as the offense broke the huddle, you look to see where No. 7 lines up because you don't want to miss anything."
Fans that have watched McCants senior highlight film understand what kind of playmaker he is, but what they can't see by the tape is what he meant to the northwest Florida area.
"Tyre has been one of the top playmakers in the Panhandle, and has been regarded as such since the beginning of his junior year," Walker added. "He made our preseason 'Dandy Dozen' list as both a junior and a senior, but I'm not sure anyone believed he would have the kind of season he had in 2013. Players and coaches alike in the Panhandle have always had plenty of respect for him, but he went above and beyond all of that in 2013. Just a phenomenal senior season."
McCants is a three-star and is ranked in the top100 players in Florida by Rivals.com. He's listed at receiver, but could end up playing running back at USF as well.
"USF is getting a player that simply goes to work every day, a player that couples a hard-working, team-first nature with explosive athletic ability. I think, and I don't mean any disrespect to any team or conference when I say this, that he's an SEC-type player, that he fits the mold of that conference when you consider his combination of size and speed."
"It will be very interesting to see how his skill-set translates to the FBS level, because the first thing that has to happen is that his coaches have to determine where he'll play. He's 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, very skilled, and I think he could help an FBS team at multiple positions. To me, he's a chain-moving, physical wide receiver, a guy with wideout skills and speed with a running back's mentality. By that, I mean that he can do everything an elite WR is supposed to do, but he also possesses a running back's ability to get tough yards, to absorb the first hit. He could also play defensive back."
McCants committed to USF on January 2nd and will take an official visit to Tampa on January 17th. He won the Northwest Florida Daily News player of the year award.