As Miami Hurricanes left tackle Kc McDermott hit the field on Tuesday afternoon, the senior was stuck with a sudden realization.
Tuesday would be McDermott’s final full-padded practice, Wednesday his final padded practice, and Thursday — two days before the No. 10-ranked Hurricanes host the No. 6-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in Saturday’s Orange Bowl — was his final practice as a Miami player.
“I’m trying to cherish it in the moment, but at the same time I’m really focused on what I need to do on the field,” McDermott said on Thursday. “(I’m trying to) focus on what I need to do in the film room and off the field and take care of my body and take care of my teammates.”
A Palm Beach Central graduate, McDermott — the younger brother of two Division I offensive linemen — was already well known when he enrolled at the University of Miami in 2014. One of his brothers was Shane McDermott, the Hurricanes starting center from 2012-14 and a first-team ACC honoree in his senior season.
McDermott’s initial season in Coral Gables corresponded with his brother’s final campaign, a year that Kc remains grateful for.
“Having someone that’s really close to you be with you for a whole year and that whole year being your first year of college football was awesome, just because having him there, I had someone to lean on,” McDermott said. “Whenever I struggled, whether it be in the classroom or in the film room or on the football field or in the weight room, I always could talk to him about it and he could tell me from his personal experience.”
McDermott added that while not every player will have the opportunity to play alongside a family member, establishing a culture that provides such a feeling has been imperative in recent years.
“If you’re struggling or something, you need to talk to one of us because we’re all brothers,” said McDermott, whose oldest brother, Tyler, played at Colorado State. “It’s a family aspect. We’re going to treat it like that.”
Teammates were quick to describe McDermott, with a thick beard and a love for fidget spinners as “passionate” and the heart of a Hurricanes team that made a bid for their first College Football Playoff appearance. In McDermott’s four years, Miami has gone from an underwhelming 6-7 team to a program on the rise, one on the verge of bringing “The U” back to glory.
Senior receiver Braxton Berrios, part of the same recruiting class that brought McDermott to Coral Gables in 2014, said he “can’t say enough good things” about the team’s starting left tackle.
“He’s the leader,” Berrios said. “He’s a passionate guy and that’s somebody I’d go into a fox hole with any day because that’s just the type of guy he is. He’d do anything for anybody. He’ll do anything for this team.”
As the hours draw closer to a prime-time showdown between the Hurricanes and the Badgers, McDermott will continue trying to reflect and enjoy his time in Coral Gables. The best way to do that?
“I’m pretty sure the best way to cherish it is to have a win on Saturday night,” McDermott said with a grin.