FB : Home turf: Entering 2nd year with Orange, MacPherson achieves goals set in Syracuse upbringing

17 Sep 2020 admin

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Macky and Cameron MacPherson were only children, but they felt like kings. As they rode their bikes or walked or ran to Manley Field House to watch Syracuse’s football practice, the brothers were two of the guys.Their grandfather and legendary former SU head coach Dick MacPherson would go with them, and the two youngsters could roam around the field during practice. Syracuse’s then-head coach, Paul Pasqualoni, was a former assistant under MacPherson.‘The guys would mess around with me and my little brother,’ Macky MacPherson said. ‘They’d all just mess with us, and I think they enjoyed us being around.’But as they grew up as part of the Syracuse program, their gallivanting started to get in the way. So in an attempt to keep Macky occupied, Dick asked the Syracuse long snapper at the time to teach Macky how to long snap.What was meant to amuse the 8-year-old Macky’s attention span turned into an interest. That interest turned into a skill.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘The long snapper, you can imagine how excited you’d be to teach an 8-year-old,’ said Maureen MacPherson, Macky’s mother, with a hint of sarcasm. ‘But he did it, and Macky got the hang of it right off.‘I think certainly that was always Macky’s dream to play there.’The skill stuck with him through his childhood, all the way through his high school playing days as a center at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse. And the dream — to play football at SU — became a reality in his junior year at CBA, when he verbally committed to Syracuse. Now an even greater aspiration is being realized, as Macky is in line to take over as the Orange’s starting center as a sophomore.It’s everything a Syracuse lifer, the grandson of one of the most heralded coaches in SU history, could hope for.‘I’m loving this,’ he said. ‘I mean, honestly, I never thought in a million years I’d be in this situation. As a sophomore, being able to play with the ones, and I’m just trying to secure that starting spot.’Macky has always been close to Syracuse football and the SU community — walking-distance close. The MacPherson’s home lies less than a mile from both the Carrier Dome and Manley, allowing for those easy bike rides to practice.It’s the same house Dick MacPherson lived in when he was head coach of SU. Maureen MacPherson bought the home from her parents, and with that, Macky essentially grew up living on campus. And with the SU football team at practice.‘Macky was running around, working hard, snapping the football,’ Dick MacPherson said. ‘We’d go eat, and then I’d take him home. He grew up watching these guys play.’Maureen MacPherson gives her father a lot of credit for helping raise Macky. On Sundays, Dick would take his grandchildren to church, breakfast and the toy store.Once Macky was old enough to handle it, he became a ball boy for Syracuse. He no longer needed to be kept busy at practice. Now he had a job to do.In Macky’s first game as a ball boy, he received his first hit. Maureen said one play spilled out of bounds, and Macky didn’t get out of the way in time.‘He was standing there watching, and next thing you know, his feet were over his head,’ Maureen said.Though Macky said he was too young to completely grasp everything he was taking in as a ball boy, he still reaped the benefits. Most of the time, he was on the opposing team’s sideline, he said. That was beneficial for him because he got an outsider’s opinion of players on the SU football team he adored.And sometimes he got a scoop. While working the sideline during a Syracuse-Rutgers game in 2007, Macky chatted with then-Rutgers junior running back Ray Rice. They talked about how Rice originally wanted to play at SU before choosing Rutgers. Rice proceeded to tell Macky he planned to leave for the National Football League.Macky also had the opportunity to work as a ball boy for the Champs Sports Bowl in 2004, the last bowl game the Orange played in until SU won the Pinstripe Bowl last year.It was Macky’s bowl game experience seven years ago that set his mind toward playing in a bowl game one day.‘That’s really how I kind of knew I wanted to play Division I,’ he said, ‘or at least the highest level I could, because I fell in love with it.’Macky’s younger brother, Cameron, became a quarterback. It was almost too perfect to be true. One of the brothers snapped the ball, and the other dropped back to receive it.Their mother said the whole neighborhood could watch their routine in the streets. As long as the snow wasn’t too deep, Macky would snap to Cameron out of the shotgun. Cameron would throw up a bomb down the street, and Macky ran down to catch it. The center would run back up the field of concrete, and they would do it again.Both went on to play at CBA. Macky grew into the role of starting center. Cameron, a rising senior in high school, will start at quarterback next fall.But it was not a foregone conclusion for Macky that Syracuse would be the next step after CBA. As a junior, he received interest from Stanford, Maryland and a few other schools, including Ivy League schools, Maureen said.‘We only heard a little bit from Syracuse, so we really weren’t sure if they were interested in him,’ she said.Syracuse’s peak point of interest came when Macky was visiting another school. He was in Boston, meeting with the Harvard head coach and watching the Crimson’s spring football game when he received a call from SU linebackers coach Dan Conley, Maureen said.Conley, a former player under Dick MacPherson, wanted Macky to stop by and talk with the Syracuse coaching staff. When they returned home, Macky and his mother met with SU head coach Doug Marrone the next day.Just like that, Macky was offered a scholarship to the school he’s been associated with his entire life. He jumped on the opportunity, verbally committing that day.Macky got immediate playing time as a freshman at long snapper. Even though he wasn’t playing center, he was learning.The Orange’s starting center was senior Ryan Bartholomew, who anticipates getting selected in April’s NFL Draft. For Macky, Bartholomew was the perfect person to have on the team to answer questions. And Bartholomew knew he had another role when it came to Macky.‘I knew he was the future of the center position,’ Bartholomew said. ‘His way was to try to learn from me. … Because he wanted to learn, I tried to teach him as much as possible.’Though Macky is small — he weighs 256 pounds, whereas Bartholomew weighed 298 a season ago — he makes up for it with his football IQ. Both Bartholomew and current Syracuse offensive guard Zack Chibane said he will overcome the lack of size.Marrone is also confident in Macky’s ability to step in as starting center. Marrone, a former SU offensive lineman, said as long as Macky listens to those next to him on the offensive line, he will be fine.‘He’ll be OK,’ Marrone said. ‘I feel good about him, I do. He’s played center, he can move, he’s smart, he’s bright.’Macky also has Syracuse in his bloodlines. From his grandfather’s success with the Orange to the home he grew up in less than a mile from campus, Macky was raised on the turfs of the Carrier Dome and Manley.The center calls his grandfather after every practice and almost every night. But he isn’t calling ‘Coach Mac.’ He’s calling his grandfather. They don’t talk Xs and Os.Dick MacPherson said they talk about five nights a week about how he’s doing academically and how he’s adapting to the rigors of handling a college course load and playing football at the same time. Macky said the best thing he can do for his grandson is to not give any advice. He wants to leave that for Marrone.Dick said he’s proud of his grandson’s work to become SU’s starting center in the same way any grandfather is proud of his grandson for chasing his dreams. Dreams that started on bike rides to Manley and Sunday routines a decade ago.‘I’m very proud of who he is and how he’s working and doing the right thing,’ Dick said. ‘And I think the most important thing is his teammates and his coaching staff feel the same way, and hopefully they do.’mcooperj@syr.educenter_img Published on April 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjrlast_img

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