The NY Jets did a good job addressing the wide receiver position in free agency, but if they look to Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft for a possible late-round sleeper, one player that could interest them is Kent State’s Isaiah McKoy.
A Brooklyn native, McKoy was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and he chose to attend Kent State where he saw immediate playing time as a true freshman.
The 21-year-old started the better part of three years at Kent State leading his team in receiving in his final two seasons. McKoy was named third-team All-MAC following a standout sophomore season that saw him lead the conference in touchdowns and yards per catch.
And despite his team playing in just four games in 2020, McKoy managed to earn first-team All-MAC honors after hauling in 25 catches for 455 yards and five touchdowns.
McKoy was a dynamic, big-play threat at Kent State and developed into one of the MAC’s most prolific pass-catchers, especially when paired with quarterback Dustin Crum. And he could be a logical target for the Jets on Day 3 of the draft.
I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with McKoy about his football career to this point, the NFL Draft process, if he sees himself as a fit with the Jets, and if the Jets have shown any interest.
Below is a transcription of our interview.
Interview with NY Jets draft prospect Isaiah McKoy
Justin Fried: “Let’s start from the beginning. You were born in Brooklyn, but moved down to Georgia and ended up attending Norcross High School. Now, that’s a school that has produced a ton of NFL talent. Most notably guys like Alvin Kamara, Lorenzo Carter, and, of course, Jets tight end Chris Herndon. You know I had to mention him. What was it like playing at a school that has produced so many professional athletes and having to follow in their footsteps?”
Isaiah McKoy: “When I first got to Norcross, I didn’t realize that it was such a prominent football and basketball school. There are like four NBA players that came from Norcross as well. But I didn’t know about that until I got to school. It’s a privilege and a blessing to be the next athlete to come from there. I actually hollered at Chris Herndon last week. I’m supposed to go to his house this week before the draft just to link up. All of that has been a blessing.”
JF: “Yeah a lot of athletes as you mentioned. I think Jeremy Lamb and Al-Farouq Aminu came out of Norcross too. You have a bit of a background in track as well. Do you think that’s something that’s helped you as a football player?”
IM: “Yeah, of course, I love track. I didn’t love it enough to keep up with it in college, but it definitely helped me with my breathing and running. No wasted steps in any movement. Track was a great thing that I always took in during the offseason when I wasn’t playing football.”
JF: “So you originally committed to Ball State coming out of high school, but later flipped to Kent State, another MAC school. What factored into your decision to switch?”
IM: “Not much factored into it really. I just felt like where Kent State was as a football program, I felt like it was somewhere that I could go in as a true freshman and definitely change that whole program. And I honestly think that’s what I did.”
JF: “Yeah like you said, you got playing time immediately and soon took over the starting job. Was that a scenario where you kind of knew you were going to get significant playing time as a true freshman or was that something where you showed up in camp and pretty much gave the coaches no choice but to play you?”
IM: “I definitely knew that. I knew how tough I was and everything I had been through so that as soon as I stepped on campus for those summer workouts in 2018, [I knew] that I was going to be starting by the end of fall camp that season.”
JF: “And you did. Now let’s go to 2019, your sophomore year. Kent State finishes with its best record in years, the first time they finish with more than four wins since 2012. It was also the first time they had appeared in a bowl game since then. You guys go in as underdogs against Jordan Love and Utah State in the Frisco Bowl, and you come out on top. Kent State’s first bowl victory in school history. What did that moment mean for you?”
IM: “I think that moment meant more for the Kent State family and everyone that lives in Kent, Ohio. Especially with the slump that program has been in since the days of Julian Edelman and Dri Archer. For me to come in and set the tone of the game against an opponent that everyone expected us to lose to, that was something that I took to heart. And I wear my heart on my sleeve. That game was not only important for me, but for the people of Kent.”
JF: “Right, as you said, that’s a program that has dealt with a lot of negativity over the last few years. I’m sure that moment meant a lot for all of you. 2020 was probably the best year of your career, although your team only played four games. But in those four games, you finished with 25 catches for 455 yards and five touchdowns. You were one of only seven FBS players to average more than 112 receiving yards per game. You were voted first-team All-MAC. What’s been the most improved part of your game? What’s led to you getting better and better each year?”
IM: “I think just getting more opportunities and getting the ball in my hands. Coming from Kent, it was a hard thing to overcome their past slumps, so I had to go through more adversity to get the ball in my hands. I don’t think it was as much me working on things as it was me getting more opportunities to showcase my abilities.”
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JF: “For sure, and it helps that you have a good quarterback down there now in Dustin Crum. Do you have any NFL players that you model your game after or just like to watch on film?”
IM: “I watch a lot of different players at a lot of different positions. But to me, the person that I look up to the most is Odell Beckham. He’s been my favorite receiver since I was a kid. I’m originally a Giants fan, but that’s going to have to change if they don’t get me. Watching Odell Beckham and the firey type of playstyle he has, he wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the field. I love watching Davante Adams too. His poise and the way that he controls the whole thing with the cornerback. I have been watching Justin Jefferson too, even though he just got to the league. Those are probably the top-three guys that I’ve been watching over the past six or seven years to right now.”
JF: “Three great options. You mentioned you’re a Giants fan. Since you grew up in Brooklyn, I was actually going to ask you if you were a Jets fan, but it’s OK. I’m a little hurt, but it’s OK (laughs). That could always change though.”
IM: “Yeah it could change. Definitely!”
JF: “On that note, are there any teams that have shown a little more interest than others that you could potentially see yourself with come draft day?”
IM: “Of course, the Jets. I actually just got a call from the Jets like 10 minutes ago when I was driving. The Jets, the Giants, the Ravens, Tampa Bay, the Chargers, 49ers, Rams, Seattle, Dallas, Jacksonville, Miami, Philadelphia, New England, and Green Bay. I think that’s it. And all of those teams, they’ve been seriously calling me every day just checking up on me, getting my draft-day number. It’s all fourth quarter now. But those are the teams that want me and I think are going to see if they could get me in the draft.”
JF: “That’s awesome, you named like half the league there! Finally, you mentioned the Jets have shown interest, do you see yourself as a fit for the offense they’re trying to run? Kind of like a Kyle Shanahan-inspired scheme?”
IM: “Yeah, of course. I see myself fitting in with any team. My goals are very high. As soon as I get drafted, I’m packing up and heading down to the facility to begin my career and be the best receiver I could ever be. I have a lot of high goals. I’m trying to get to the Hall of Fame. I do see myself starting as a rookie. I’m not trying to run away from that. That’s something that I’ve always wanted. I always go into the fire — and I love the fire. The NFL is a tough league, it’s a league of durability. But those are the attributes that I’ve always had throughout my career.”
Special thanks to Isaiah for taking the time to speak with us. The Jets could be looking to add a big-play threat to their offense in the draft.
And if they do, Isaiah McKoy could be someone they target.