Cardinal Moony High School is planting roots in Kentucky. Coach Stoops, who attended and played at Mooney along with all his coach brothers under their father, long time defensive coordinator Ron Stoops. Bob (Oklahoma), Ron Jr. (linebackers and high school relations director at Youngstown State), Mike (defensive coordinator at Oklahoma) and of course Mark (our very own head coach) are all coaches in the NCAA now.
Marcus McWilson, a freshman safety from Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio took on his first media interviews as a Kentucky Wildcat today at Media Day. Inevitably, the Stoops legacy on his former football program came up. McWilson didn’t always dream of football, however. Today he told media that he used to play soccer as a forward, like his older brother, who had a scholarship for soccer to Cleveland State. At Mooney, however, the bread and butter is football- 8 state titles, the latest in 2011, which McWilson was on the team for. In 5th grade a friend signed him up football and that led him here. “I skipped the first week and hid from my mother until she drug me out of the house to go.” They told McWilson he had “good size”, he is listed on the roster at 6 foot and 210 pounds.
“I was ok with playing football because the rest of my friends did. In high school I wasn’t going to play but some of my friends played, some of them broke off, but I kept with it, kept after it and fell in love with the sport.” Lucky for McWilson, sticking with it led him on a scholarship to Kentucky and playing in the SEC at perhaps one of the most exciting times in UK history for football. When asked if he knew about the Stoops family in high school, without hesitation McWilson said “yes.”
“They’re big time, we love the Stoops’,” McWilson told us. “Coming from Ohio and the same high school as Coach Stoops and Coach Marrow, it’s definitely a blessing to be recruited for the SEC and I’m very humble about that. I’m ready to do what I can to contribute to the team and become the best player I can be.”
McWilson is listed as number 15 on the depth chart along with fellow defense guy, JD Harmon which is odd, so I asked him about it. McWilson wasn’t aware that Harmon wore 15 but said, “With the number 15, I was 44 in high school, it’s a Mooney thing. I fell in love with this number and I was ready to get it and compete for my position…our quarterbacks normally wear 15 and the guys that go on to college wear 15 if they can which is nice…I’m happy with this number and thankful I got it.”
McWilson mentioned that Marrow also went to Mooney, not as famous as the Stoops in Youngstown, Ohio, but Marrow did play tight end there before going on to Youngstown State, the University of Toledo before being drafted by the Bills and eventually ending up at Kentucky. He was the main coach to recruit McWilson. The Mooney roots could deepen at Kentucky as Marcus has a younger brother, Donovan McWilson. Donovan is in the 2014 class and currently has interest from Toledo, Purdue, Kent State, and you guessed it, Kentucky. Marrow is also the main recruiter for the younger McWilson.
Freshmen aren’t on the depth chart, although a lot was said about the young guys having a wide open opportunity to get on the field and make an immediate impact. Marcus, who just got on campus, said, “I can’t wait to get to work, I’m here to work.”