Faith, family and football motivate Miami Hurricanes linebacker Tyriq McCord

In limited action this season, Tyriq McCord became the first UM player since Sean Taylor to produce a turnover in three consecutive games.

10/03/2013 6:41 PM

02/27/2014 12:09 AM

As a mother who has always preached to her three sons “your body is your temple,” Frances McCord was disappointed last year when her middle son, Tyriq, got tattoos on his shoulders and chest after heading off to college.

The sting eventually wore off, though, when McCord, a 6-3, 235-pound outside linebacker and rush end for the Miami Hurricanes, showed his mother what they were.

The first two tattoos — drawn across his broad shoulders shortly after he graduated from Tampa Jefferson High — are biblical scriptures his family reflects on in times of struggle (Philippians 4:13 and Isaiah 54:17). The last two — McCord got those following his first season in Coral Gables — were the faces of his mother and father, inked right across his chest.

“I grew up in the church and sang in the choir up until high school. I get Chapel and a good word in every week,” said Tyriq, who intercepted a pass last Saturday against USF in his hometown of Tampa to become the first UM player to produce a turnover in three consecutive games since the late Sean Taylor did it twice in 2003.

“I just grew up with a good family. Mom and Dad were always there for me. They taught me I always had to work for what I wanted. That’s why I have their faces on my chest.”

CHOOSING THE CANES

Devout and dedicated according to his teammates, McCord – a U.S. Army High School All-American – picked the Hurricanes two years ago because of what he saw coach Al Golden do on the sideline before Jake Wieclaw booted the winning field goal in a 6-3 win at USF.

“Usually they let the kicker be by himself and calm him down when they ice the kicker to try to shake him up, but Coach Golden and the whole team was right there with him jumping on his back getting him hyped,” McCord said.

“I was like, ‘That’s the type of team I want to play for.’ It showed a lot of pride and it showed that [Golden] was a player’s coach. He was having fun doing his job. He’s not out there mad all of the time. He was out there having fun with the players. I really liked that.”

Less than two years later, McCord has become as big a playmaker as any on UM’s defense. He produced the sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery that led to the decisive touchdown in the win against Florida, along with his interceptions in his past two games. His five tackles speak to his limited work. McCord said he was in on only 15 snaps against Florida and has averaged 20 to 25 snaps in his past two games. Limited work, but sound production — something Golden loves.

“Who has made more plays than Tyriq McCord?” Golden said on Hurricanes Hotline earlier this week. “There’s a guy who maybe should be bitter because he’s the third-team [strong-side linebacker]. Maybe he would be dejected. But the reality is he has such a pivotal role in terms of rushing the passer and what he does on special teams that he’s carved out a lot of plays for himself.”

When the 14th-ranked Hurricanes (4-0) face Paul Johnson’s run-heavy Georgia Tech triple-option offense Saturday afternoon, there probably won’t be many opportunities for McCord to get on the field on defense. But that’s not fazing him at all.

“I just go in with the mentality like I’m not a starter or anything, but I have to do something special,” McCord said. “I have to go out there and make a play. They’re calling me out there to do something, to contribute. I have a role on special teams as well. Anyway I can help out my team that’s the route for me.”

That type of mindset does not surprise his mom.

“Tyriq has always been very competitive,” Frances McCord said. “Growing up, everything he did he would beat himself up if he didn’t do his best. I remember in elementary school if he did not make 100 on his tests he would literally sit in class and cry. They would call me from the office and say you need to come in and speak to your son.

“Coming from somewhere where he played everything and never came off the field he realizes he has to work his way up. He knows everything has to be earned. It’s kind of a challenge for him — and he loves it.”

A SECOND CAREER?

Frances, a former track star and now a U.S. Postal Service employee, said her son is studying Broadcast Communications at UM with the idea that if football doesn’t develop into a pro career, he can live off his smile and smarts as a sports personality.

“He wants to be a sports personality because he has such a nice smile,” Frances said. “He’s always thought he could make a living off that. But he knows deep down it takes a lot of work, more than that for sure.”

Tyriq has no problem with that.

He wears those fundamental beliefs on his shoulders and chest.

“Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things regardless. You try hard enough you can do all things. [Christ] gives you the strength,” Frances said. “I always tell my sons when they go through life not everybody will be for you. So no weapon formed against us shall prosper [Isaiah 54:17]. They meditate on those two verses when times get hard.

“Although I didn’t like the tattoos, I’m happy he’s taking what we put in him and he’s keeping that close to his heart.”

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