September 11, 2012

Football, family and schoolwork lure transfer to Trinity

More news about: Trinity (Texas)
Nyk McKissic has given Trinity, known for its defense and run game, an aerial attack this fall.
Photo by David Smith, Trinity athletics

Nyk McKissic was given the opportunity to chase the dream that most youth football players shoot for by accepting a scholarship to play Division I football at Jackson State out of high school. However prior to the fall in 2010 after spending a season on the scout team, another childhood dream beckoned for McKissic.

"I knew at a young age that I wanted to be an attorney because I had conviction to help people make the world a better place," he said.

So McKissic reached out to Trinity (Texas) head football coach Steve Mohr about a transfer opportunity. Mohr and his staff in San Antonio had recruited McKissic out of Round Rock Stony Point High School in the Austin area, but the quarterback initially decided to take on Jackson State.

"I think he found he wasn't challenged there academically, he wanted more of a learning environment and wanted to be closer to his mom," said Mohr.

The Tigers' staff welcomed the opportunity to bring McKissic back to Texas, and he packed his bags to play for one of the more consistently successful college football teams in the state of Texas. Trinity has reached the NCAA playoffs 12 times since 1994 including last season.

In the classroom, McKissic declared history his major with a pre-law emphasis while on the field he was battling for a starting position at quarterback. Midway through the 2010 season, McKissic took over the job, won his first start against Sewanee and hasn't looked back.

In 2011, the Tigers recorded a perfect 10-0 regular season with McKissic under center before falling in the first round of the NCAA playoffs to McMurry.

McKissic said the loss to McMurry had a significant impact on him as he went into the offseason.

"He's 20 pounds lighter this year because of the work he did in the offseason, which has given him more mobility in the pocket," Mohr said. "He did it all on his own, and with that work I know he's made plays that he probably couldn't have a year ago."

But, quickness wasn't the only issue McKissic wanted to deal with; he said he knew that he had to be a better passer for Trinity to take the next step.

"Looking back on that McMurry game last year there were some things that I needed to do in the offseason," said McKissic. "I was pushed by my teammates and they drove me because I felt like I let them down. I felt that the game would have been different if we had been able to throw the ball better at certain situations in the game."

With that thought in mind, the Tigers, who are known for their defense and run game, have enjoyed an aerial attack the first two games of the season with 56-7 and 31-7 wins over Howard Payne and Texas Lutheran, respectively. McKissic, who threw for just over 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games last season, is averaging 268.5 yards in the first two games with nine touchdowns, no interceptions and a 69 percent completion rating.

"It's been a concentrated effort on everyone's part to do what we have to do to win games; from the offensive line to the skills guys, and to the running backs helping open up the passing game," said McKissic.

Even with the extra throwing stats early in the season, McKissic knows that Trinity hangs its hat on an old-school type of football that prides itself on defense and ball control, which was one of the other elements that lured him back from Jackson State.

McKissic lost his father, Metroud, on Christmas Day when he was 16 years old; a relationship that he cherished and one that Trinity reminded him of.

"I wanted a tight-knit family environment, which I knew Trinity had, but I also knew coach Mohr was old school, and I had admiration for that mentality because my dad was very old school," McKissic said. "He pressed me and pushed me as hard as he needed to both academically and athletically. He helped mold me into the man I am today, and he's continued to have a major impact on me."

Mohr said he has enjoyed seeing McKissic grow as a player since his arrival.

"I think he's improved the most by having a better overall grasp of the game in our offense in general," said Mohr. "I think he's just now fully understood what we're trying to do with our offense. But also, he's such an example off the field. He's a deeply religious individual, and off the field he does all the right things."

With his father's passing, another draw to Trinity was returning closer to his mother, Ramona. McKissic was an only child, and he said that having his mom close by and attending his games has been his foundation.

"I've been in college and had my own experience, but my best friend, my mom is only an hour and 20 minutes away," he said. "I can count on her, I can call her, I can go see her, and when I look up in the stands at games I can see her waving at me. It's a relationship that maybe not all college guys want with their mom, but we have that kind of relationship."
McKissic has a lot to look forward to. After passing his LSAT, he's looking to apply to the Texas Tech or University of Houston law school. And he's already helped his team win 13 of his last 14 starts, and he quarterbacks the No. 11 team in the country.

Week in review

Centre cracks back into top 25 at No. 23

The SAA, in its first year in existence, has two of its five teams in the Top 25 after Centre earned the No. 23 spot with its 2-0 start and 49-21 win over Rose-Hulman on Saturday. Centre used a balanced attack to gain 513 yards of total offense while Rose-Hulman couldn't get out of its own way losing five fumbles in the contest despite putting up a formidable 491 total yards.

BSC comes out on top of shootout with Huntingdon

No. 24 Birmingham-Southern picked up a big win against Independent Huntingdon College on Saturday in a shootout. The Panthers held off a rally after leading 45-24 over the Hawks, and BSC held on for the 45-38 victory. Huntingdon's Neal Posey torched the Panther defense for 388 passing yards and had two touchdown passes in the final five minutes. However, it was BSC's running attack that put the game out of reach in the first place as the Panthers carried the ball 41 times for 311 yards. The victory propelled BSC to No. 20 in the national poll.

Wilson/Bailey lead No. 4 UMHB to win in opener

Darius Wilson averaged 13.8 yards per carry on the way to a 165-yard, three-touchdown performance on the ground while adding a receiving touchdown as Mary Hardin-Baylor opened the season with a 34-7 victory over Kean. Wilson's teammate, senior quarterback Li"Darral Bailey completed 20 of 24 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. The No. 4 Crusaders appear to have picked up where they left off and cruised in their warmup game in anticipation of Saturday's noon matchup on the road against No. 3 ranked Wesley.

Rhodes opens with win

Lukas Stockhausen knocked in the game-winning field goal in overtime from 37 yards out to help Rhodes defeat Washington University. Rhodes, of the Southern Athletic Association, helped the SAA's five members go a perfect 5 for 5 in their openers after the Lynx were off last week.

Looking ahead

No. 11 Trinity at Sul Ross State Saturday at Noon CDT

Sul Ross State has been edged the past two weeks, but not without the Lobos putting up a ton of points with new senior transfer quarterback A.J. Springer and senior running back Dominique Carson. Sul Ross, like Texas Lutheran, is another ASC team looking to prove itself, however, Trinity turned away the Bulldogs last week with a 31-7 win while Sul Ross will look to have a bit more offensive fire power. The Tigers' win over TLU put them at No. 11 in the national rankings.

No. 4 Mary Hardin-Baylor at No. 3 Wesley at Noon EST

Wesley leads the all-time series record with Mary Hardin-Baylor 4-2; the Crusaders haven't defeated the Wolverines since 2008 and haven't defeated them in Delaware since 2007.

Tweet of the week

@M a y D a T r u t h
"G o t  o u r  f i r s t  W  w a s n ' t  p r e t t y  b u t  w e  g o t  i t  d o n e ! !" -- ETBU WR K'Wame Spikes shortly following the Tigers' road win over Austin College Saturday

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Justin Goldberg

Justin Goldberg is a newspaper copy editor and freelance writer in southwest Virginia. Originally from New York, he played Division III basketball in that colder region of the country, but moved to Virginia in 2008 to earn his M.F.A. in creative writing. He has written for multiple publications, including C-VILLE Weekly and The Roanoke Times. He is happy to join D3football.com for his first season as the Around the South columnist.
2013 columnist: Andee Djuric
2012 columnist: Kyle Robarts
2008-11 columnist: Jason Bowen

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