Missouri S&T scouted Trojan football player McKennan Starkey as a preferred walk on for their football team, and while he has yet to receive an athletic scholarship, he hopes to earn one in the coming years as he makes an impact on the team.
Currently he practices with the team as a red shirt, working on honing his skills against his fellow players.
“I didn’t really realize before I went to college that – you are the guy, you’re one of the best on the team in high school, and then when you get to college, everyone was the best on their team and then now they’re all a part of that team, so everyone’s good,” Starkey said.
The football player was the starting quarterback for the Troy Buchanan Varsity team during his junior and senior year, although his favorite football memory stems back to his first time starting a game during sophomore year.
“I got moved up to play my first varsity game against Wentzville Holt High School and we ended up winning our first varsity game in two years. And so that was just a huge moment for the team, me and our brand new head coach,” Starkey said, “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that – because even though it was one win in two years that was such a special moment because everyone wanted it so bad.”
Starkey started playing football in fifth grade, and has played every year since then; he simply fell in love with the sport. As college approached, he decided he wanted to play sports in his higher education, and while he also played basketball and tennis in high school, something about football “just clicked.” He threw most of his time and effort into football, and as he continues his sports career in college he has not regretted his decision.
Starkey said that his dream would be to make it to the NFL, but he recognizes the competition that comes with going pro.
“I’m working for it, I don’t know what will happen, but I’m just going to keep trying to prove myself no matter what.”
Starkey is currently working on earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, with a minor in computer science. No matter what happens in his football career, he said that he would always be “ecstatic” to attend S&T as it met all his college needs. Football and regular college activities both carry a lot of responsibility, but Starkey has learned to lean on friends he’s made on the team to help him stay focused in both areas.
“I have amazing friends and I’m so grateful for it. I don’t know what I’d do without them because they are essential to how great my first year of college was,” said Starkey.
Besides college friends, Starkey shared that his biggest inspiration and supporter of his football career was his high school coach, Ryan Nesbitt. Nesbitt started coaching at Troy Buchanan when Starkey was in his sophomore year, so both coach and player were able to grow together, and Starkey said they still see each other quite often even though he graduated high school a year ago.
“He’s an insanely intense guy, he knows what he’s talking about. He won’t let you quit, because he sees your potential and he knows what you can be and he doesn’t want you to stop till you reach or exceed your potential,” Starkey said. “He just pushed me ever since the day I got there and I absolutely loved that about him.”
Looking back at his sports career, Starkey said there were times he felt like giving up because he felt he wasn’t giving his all, but whenever he feels he’s backed against a wall, he said he just remembers everyone who has believed in him while playing football.
“The people who helped me believed I could [play football] too, or else they wouldn’t help me. I have been in certain moments where I’ll be up against the wall, and some days I just don’t want to do anything or go to practice, but then I think I’m cutting myself short,” Starkey said, “There’s no reason to give up when there’s so much opportunity and good people behind what I’m doing.”
As he looks to the future, Starkey said he would be interested in coaching football to kids, as he remembers the influence his dad had on him and believes it’s important for little kids to have good role models to look up to. For the immediate season, he is excited to get a chance to make an impact on his team, and he will continue to work at becoming quarterback.
“I’m really looking forward to this season because I’ve been working and trying to improve and everything, so yeah I’m pretty excited.” Starkey said.