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Good receivers are always hungry for the ball. They want to eat on every single play.

Keyshawn McGill is no different, though the Michigan City senior jet has learned the best passing games are those in which everybody gets a seat at the dinner table.

"Sometimes, it frustrates me," McGill said of the constant double teams. "I had to mature real quick. About the third game, I realized it's not about me, it's about my team. I can't do it by myself. Everybody has to do their part to help the team. If they double cover me, other receivers are going to be open who are just as good. I'm not going to pout when I don't get the ball. I know what I can do. I'm just happy when we win."

City's been doing a lot of that lately, making a run to its first semistate. After torching Munster for 170 yards, McGill's main contribution the last two weeks has been drawing defenders away from teammates, opening the field for Bryce Hayman, Tyler Siegmund and Zennon Wilhelm.

"When we go to the other receivers and they break away, they go back to their side," McGill said. "Then when I break away, they come back to me. I love when I get man to man and they put their best on me. Not to sound cocky, but nobody can really guard me."

The stats don't lie. McGill has 42 catches for 927, an average of 22.1 yards per reception with seven touchdowns.

"He brings everything to what we do," Wolves coach Phil Mason said. "Hands down, he's the most talented receiver I've ever had. He's not only fluent, he has great speed, a pure route runner. He makes people turn their hips and shoulders. He's a strong kid, a good blocker."

While speed is McGill's forte, he's not afraid to stick his nose in traffic over the middle. With all the attention McGill draws, Mason has found different ways to get him the ball, including running plays. He has 15 carries for 145 yards and four touchdowns.

"I like it better when I'm moving around, (bubble screens), it's where I can move, show my talent," McGill said. "(Quarterback Michael McCullough) and I are like a duo. We have good timing."

A 6-foot-7 high jumper and 10.8-second, 100-meter dash sprinter, the 160-pound McGill has always been a stick of dynamite, loading plenty of explosiveness into a small package. He was an outside linebacker and back-up running back on the 2010 Michigan City Pop Warner team that won a national title. It wasn't until middle school when he started catching the ball.

"I wanted to be a running back, but I was too small," he said. "I was always a little guy, but I was always a tough guy. I played up with the eighth grade in sixth grade. I never backed down. I know I'm small but I make up for it every time by working extra hard."

When McGill got into high school, one of goals was to beat Markice Hurt, a former teammate now playing for Ball State, in a sprint. By his sophomore year, he was doing it.

"I saw he was really fast and he always burned me," McGill said. "One time, I was ready and I beat him, then I did it over and over. He told me one on one I was faster. He didn't want everybody else to know."

Despite the jets and the gaudy numbers, college interest has been mild so far.

"I really hope he's under-recruited because he'll be an All-American wherever he goes," Mason said.

However the athletics part plays out, McGill knows an education is the key to his future.

"I'd be the first one in my family who graduated and went to college," he said. "I'm proud of myself for that. My cousin would tell me, don't make the same mistake I did and go down the wrong path."

Today, the football path leads to Kokomo, where McGill and the Wolves bid for a berth in the Class 5A state championship game.

"It's crazy. We feel like we have the whole community on our back," McGill said. "It's a lot of pressure, but we can't focus on that.. We have to be ready, come together and make plays. One play can cost us the game. I feel like we have a great chance."

— Times sports writer Steve Hanlon contributed to the story.


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.