John Denton's Knights Insider: McCray Brothers Stick Together

Aug. 20, 2010

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF had just finished a lengthy practice on a blazing hot summer day and the three offensive linemen walking off the field together looked for the first place they could find to plop down their sweat-soaked bodies.

Planned or otherwise, the moment created quite a stir outside of the football team's dressing facilities.

Seated left to right in numerical order: Jordan McCray (No. 63), Justin McCray (No. 64) and Cliff McCray (No. 65) - three brothers who are playing together this season for UCF for the first time.

And the touching, picturesque moment wasn't lost on the other Knights players passing by as many of them made it a point to bring to light to the sight that had to make some rub their eyes in disbelief.

``Awwww, so sweet seeing them all together,'' linebacker Derrick Hallman said with a mocking laugh. ``They're so cute.''

``What a beautiful family picture,'' quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey said as he pretended to snap photos of the almost 900 pounds of McCray brothers.

Cliff, who is five years older than twins Justin and Jordan, didn't seem to mind the ribbing from his teammates one bit. Say whatever anybody out there wants, Cliff said, but for him the scenario of being able to mentor his two younger brothers is totally a dream come true.

``It's not corny at all, man. It's a dream come true,'' Cliff said. ``Especially for our family, this is something that we'll always remember.

``It is good to see my brothers involved and they're getting better every day. And at the same time, they push me to work even harder because I know they are looking at me,'' Cliff continued. ``I want to be a good example and hand the torch over to them in the next couple of years.''

Before he hands over the torch, the McCrays will get to play together for at least two seasons. Justin and Jordan, identical twins who are both 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, are true freshmen after stellar prep careers at Miami Southridge High School.

Cliff is classified as just a redshirt junior after being granted two additional years by the NCAA. He missed two seasons because of a heart condition and sat out a third year following the death of former UCF teammate Ereck Plancher. The NCAA granted Cliff the two additional years in the spring, ensuring him the chance to team up with his much-younger brothers and play into his mid-20s.

``I get a lot of (trash-talk) from the players. They call me `old man' and tell me that I'm going to get my doctor's degree by the time that I'm done here,'' Cliff said with a chuckle. ``But I'm so grateful because I didn't think I'd ever get two years. I was just hopeful for one year. It's a gift and God works in mysterious ways.''

Cliff was mentioned as a starter on Thursday at the Countdown to Kickoff Luncheon, which was attended by more than 900 Knights fans. The catered event where fans got to meet UCF's players and coaches raised $45,000 for athletic scholarships.

As for the McCrays, all three have had solid camps so far. Despite some changes along the first-unit line, Cliff has been able to hold onto his starting left guard slot. And both Justin and Jordan have managed to work their way up to the second unit already with occasional spot duty along the first string.

``Cliff has done a good job for us. He's been here since what seems like 2001. He's about my age now,'' offensive line coach Brent Key joked. ``Last year took a physical toll on him, but now he's had a full year in the program. Both Justin and Jordan have opportunities to be good football players. What I like about them is they come out here to work every day and they love the game of football. They are the first ones in the meeting room, they are taking notes and asking questions. Their want to be good makes them fun guys to coach.''

At first glance, only a small mole on the Justin's face differentiates his looks from Jordan, his identical twin. The two often finish each other's sentences and on the football field they have been known to share inside jokes to keep defensive linemen guessing.

Cliff said that while the two look almost exactly alike, there are subtle differences between the two of them.

``They're pretty equal in everything. On pro bench, one did 19 reps and the other did 18,'' he said. ``But as far as personality, Jordan has a bit of a mean streak in him. And Jordan is the one who is very confident. That's two of their strengths that stand out.''

And Cliff never misses an opportunity to savor the chance to play alongside of his two younger brothers. He said their arrival has pushed him to be a better player and to become a great example.

``A couple of times Jordan has been in there next to me and it was cool to give him some dap and say, `Let's go! Let's do this together!' That's been so cool for me,'' Cliff said. ``But sometimes those guys are a trip because they are so much younger than me. Sometimes I just have to let them do their thing.''


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John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.