Very rarely is it the case that a student athlete decides to transfer a week before fall camp. That was the case last Monday when former Arkansas Razorbacks sophomore wide receiver Mekale McKay didn’t report to Razorback fall camp.
After Monday’s practice, Arkansas coach, Bret Bielema told reporters that McKay had missed the first day of preseason practice and that he had talked to him a week before that time about the potential of transferring to another university.
McKay also expressed interest in playing somewhere where the offense was more pass-oriented like he played in last season under former Arkansas offensive coordinator, current Idaho head coach, Paul Petrino. He didn’t feel like he fit the new pro-style system being implemented at Arkansas under new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
On Saturday, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema announced that McKay was granted his release from Arkansas. And a day later on Sunday, Bielema confirmed that he was heading to the University of Cincinnati.
The 6-foot-6 195 pound McKay who caught 21 passes for 317 yards last season with two touchdown grabs was the leading receiver coming into this season but had been bothered by lingering injuries throughout the offseason and was not part of Arkansas’s post spring two-deep depth chart at wideout.
This sudden departure could also be a bruise to the arm of the Arkansas receiving corps under Michael Smith. The group of D’Arthur Cowan, Demetrius Wilson, Julian Horton, Javontee Herndon and Keon Hatcher are seeking to replace departing seniors Cobi Hamilton and Chis Gragg as key playmakers for the Arkansas program. Hamilton, Cincinnati Bengals rookie wide receiver, and Gragg, Buffalo Bills rookie tight end, were solid mismatch receivers under the Bobby Petrino regime. Without the size and strength of a McKay, it is going to be unclear who Jim Chaney uses as a mismatch receiver possibly on goal line situations like McKay starred at last season for the Hogs.
Even though Cincinnati is a lot closer to his home in Louisville, it looks like McKay will have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules that prohibit immediate eligibility for players transferring from one FBS program to another.
It is rumored that McKay will file a petition with the NCAA for an immediate hardship waiver. It’s not known what McKay will mention in his waiver, but you would have to think that Bielema probably didn’t do McKay a favor by stating that McKay felt like he didn’t fit his smash-mouth offensive system.
That’s especially the case when you’re transferring to a Bearcats program under new head coach, Tommy Tuberville, that plans to run a balanced pro-style attack under offensive coordinator, Eddie Gran in the new American Athletic Conference.