Senior tailback David McCarty has matured from a Division I question mark to the ultimate answer for the University at Albany football team.
The LaSalle Institute graduate is struggling with a nagging right hamstring injury, but when he’s healthy, he’s the heart and soul of the Great Danes’ offense.
McCarty was the nation’s second-leading rusher as a junior, when he shattered the school’s single-season rushing record with 1,852 yards. He is already the Danes’ all-time leader in career rushing yards (3,353) and all-purpose yards (3,979), and is third in both career touchdowns (32) and points (192).
A two-time captain and both a Walter Payton Award candidate and preseason Sporting News Yearbook Northeast Conference Player of the Year, McCarty could care less about statistics or accolades. Winning is the bottom line, and he expects to lead the Great Danes to their third straight NEC title.
“David McCarty is an interesting commodity,” said veteran UAlbany head coach Bob Ford. “When he came to us, he only weighed 160 pounds, and he was a two-time runner-up in the state wrestling championships. He was a really good high school back with great determination and average speed.
“Now, he’s 217 pounds and has the same game. He has above-average speed, and he’s very strong. He’s a horse who gets better as the game goes along. He’s better in the fourth quarter, when he wears down his opponents. I think he’s so strong in the fourth quarter because of that wrestling background. He has a lot of grit. He’s a tough kid who will wear you down.”
McCarty said that besides winning games and championships, the most important honor he has received was being named team captain for the second straight year.
“I’m not the type of guy who enjoys yelling at his teammates. They know how to play, and they know how to work hard. I’d rather lead by example,” McCarty said.
“I like my teammates and my peers. It means more to me than any records or statistics that they want me to be their captain. Numbers don’t mean anything to me.
“I came here to help put Albany on the map in football, and I think I’ve done that.”
That being said, McCarty doesn’t mind the pressure of being the Great Danes’ “franchise” player on offense.
“I hate losing. I was always that way, even as a kid,” he said. “I was brought up to take everything on my shoulders.”
McCarty, who has the most 100-yard rushing efforts in team history with 19, was named the Gridiron Classic MVP when he broke loose for 271 yards and four touchdowns last year. Also a solid receiver, he has 43 career receptions.
“It’s not like I’m the only option we have on offense. We’ve got a great quarterback in Vince Espositio, and we’ve got plenty of great receivers, including Tim Bush,” McCarty said. “That takes some of the pressure off me, but I don’t really mind the pressure. I’m used to it.”
Although he still has a job to do, helping the Danes win another NEC crown, McCarty plans on becoming a U.S. Marine upon graduation, something he’s been pointing to since he was a youngster.
“I’m about 90 percent sure that I’m still going into the Marines. It’s not set in stone, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a military history buff, and I think it’s the right thing for me to. If there is a chance for me to play football down the road, it’s something I would have to consider. Times are really hard right now with the tough economy, and I know I have to provide for my future family. We’ll see how it goes.”
Freshman placekicker/punter Paul Layton, who led Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake to its second sectional title in the last three years and a trip to the state championship game last year with a 12-1 record, has been awarded the Capital District Student Scholarship, sponsored by the New York Giants and UAlbany. Layton passed for 1,302 yards and 13 touchdowns and also ran for 1,186 yards and 20 scores a year ago.
The Great Danes return 45 lettermen, including 14 starters, from last year’s team that finished 9-3.
UAlbany opens the season Sept. 5 at Georgia Southern.
5 – at Georgia Southern, 6; 12 – at UMass, 6; 19 – MAINE, 4; 26 – SACRED HEART, 4
3 – at St Francis (Pa.), 1; 10 – DUQUESNE, 1; 17 – BRYANT, 1; 24 – at Monmouth, 1; 31 – at Central Connecticut State, 12.
7 – ROBERT MORRIS, 1; 21 – at Wagner, 1.
Home games in CAPS.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: