As far as chapters in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry go, the McCrays have one that figures to stand out for a long time.
While Mike McCray Sr. was a captain at Ohio State in the late 1980s, his son Mike McCray II earned that designation at Michigan last fall.
That meant the elder McCray had to trade in his scarlet and gray for maize and blue the past five years, but apparently his hiatus as an Ohio State fan is over.
“He for sure went back right after the South Carolina game,” McCray said, referring to Michigan’s loss in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. “He was talking trash about us, and we were at dinner and Ohio State was playing in a bowl game [beating USC] and he was like, ‘Yeah, there we go.’ So he’s definitely back to Ohio State, but my mom and my fiancé are with me, so that’s all that matters.”
“You’ve got to support your son, and he supported me 110 percent, but now like I said he’s going back to those guys over there. I grew up an Ohio State fan of course, but once I got to high school I kind of grew away from it. Michigan was the right choice for me.”
The younger McCray, who was a standout at Trotwood-Madison before going north for college, made the trip to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine with advice from his father to be himself when he got the opportunity to sit down with various team personnel.
After starting 26 games at linebacker for Michigan, he said he hopes to use the workouts to answer questions about his speed and lateral movement, but he feels like his college film will show a player who excelled in multiple roles in the Wolverines’ stingy defense.
“I feel like I’m a very versatile player,” he said. “Whatever a team needs, I’m down to do it. I just want to play the game that I love.”
As for his high school alma mater, McCray said he was in Canton when the Rams won their second state championship in December.
“I went because I have four or five cousins on the team, and for them to be able to play for a state championship like I did and be able to win one, I wanted to be a part of that with them,” McCray said.
The Bengals were one of the teams he met with in Indianapolis. Although he did not grow up rooting for them, he would welcome the chance to play only an hour or so from where he grew up.
However long his professional football career lasts, McCray already has plans for the rest of his life.
After earning his degree in general studies last year, he began work on a master’s in social work with a focus on children and youth.
“After football, I want to be a high school athletic director,” McCray said. “I want to give back to my community and help kids get to where I’m at today and ultimately get to college.”
Although two of his best games were against Ohio State (totaling 19 tackles, including three for loss and a sack), the younger McCray left Ann Arbor without a win over the Buckeyes — or any regrets.
“I wouldn’t take anything back,” he said. “I don’t regret going there. I love Michigan and they’re in good hands. They’ll be pretty good next year.”