By Steve Irvine
Myles McKee didn't take a straight path to his final year of college football.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound fifth-year senior quarterback began in Asheville, North Carolina. From there he zigged to Fork Union Military and zagged to the University of Tennessee, where he was a preferred walk-on. He then journeyed to Butte Community College in Oroville, California before moving to Sierra Junior College in Rocklin, California the following year. Finally, he settled at UAB.
"It's been a long journey for sure," the 24-year-old McKee said. "I always felt that God has a plan and it's been a lot more than just football. I've learned a lot along the way and have met a lot of good friends."
The journey could have been much shorter. McKee was offered a scholarship to Appalachian State after throwing for 1,503 yards with 18 touchdowns as a senior at T.C. Roberson High in Asheville. It would have been an 85-mile drive to his new destination but he had a dream of playing at the top collegiate level so he chose to begin at Fork Union.
"It matured me a lot, grew me up a lot as a man," McKee said of his year in the military prep school. "It taught me how to be responsible and time management, just a lot of life long things I carried with me."
McKee was a redshirt in his year at Tennessee and also didn't play in 2011 at Butte Community College. He had an outstanding season in 2012 at Sierra Community, leading his team to a conference championship and a bowl bid for the first time in seven seasons. He threw for 2,266 yards and a California community college leading 29 touchdowns. In one game that season, he threw for 425 yards and six touchdowns.
"Coming in (to UAB), I was more of a gunslinger type guy," McKee said. "A big play guy, gonna come in and make some big plays, love throwing the deep ball. As I've progressed, though, I've learned to manage the game. Now I'm more of a guy, I'm going to get in, manage the game, make some plays but do it within the offense."
"That's huge," McKee said. "If you get caught up in worrying about stuff that's out of your hands, it can get to negative and lead down the wrong slope. You just have to focus on yourself, what you can do, and just stay on that path."
When needed, McKee can provide a dual threat at the quarterback position. He runs well but also has a strong, accurate arm. No matter where he fits on the depth chart, though, UAB head coach Bill Clark said McKee is an important part of the team.
"He's a senior, been around for a while, is a leader, cares about his teammates," Clark said. "He's one of those guys who will come to me and tell me `Coach, you know this is going on with this guy?' He's also a competitor. He wants to be in there just as much as the others and works hard."