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By ASHLEY SCOBY
The wait is finally over for Marcus McWilson.
The freshman safety was finally academically cleared by the NCAA on the day before the Wildcats’ game against Western Kentucky last week. McWilson arrived in Lexington in time to start fall camp with the rest of the team in August, but was set back after the NCAA said there was another issue with his case. He said he wasn’t sure what the problem was, but the lack of specifics did not prevent the frustration from setting in.
“I definitely was frustrated because it had set me back and I had so much going on and so much to think about,” he said. “But I got the clearance. I’m excited about that and everything is off my plate. I can just go out there.”
Go out there, he did. McWilson got his first college action Saturday against Miami (Ohio). He posted one solo tackle after having to sit out during the previous week.
“I got to travel with the team and everything like that, but that (NCAA clearance issues) is why I didn’t play against Western,” he said. “It was a last-minute thing. I wasn’t even at practice at all that week.”
Instead, McWilson was stuck in Lexington worrying about what his future would hold. In the meantime, his teammates were preparing without him for UK’s first game.
“Of course it set me back,” he said. “Obviously I wasn’t happy about it. I don’t know who would be because I love the game. I love being out there with the rest of the guys. I want to contribute just as much as they do. I couldn’t practice but now that I can, I can help contribute. I can be out there on the field with the rest of them and just play.”
Missing a week of practice and game day preparation was a setback, but not something McWilson says he is having trouble with. Football has been his life for a while now, and playing catch-up is simply a part of that dedication.
“I’d say it’s pretty easy. It’s not the hardest game,” he said. “You’ve just got to pay attention – getting films and get in your playbooks … It’s like clockwork. It’ll just happen. When you’re out there on the football field after you’ve done it so much that you can just react to it.”
Now that the wait on the NCAA is over for McWilson, he can focus on just getting back in the groove with his teammates. Next comes Louisville.