Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Alex McGough is no stranger to making a strong impact.
As quarterback of the Florida International Panthers, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound McGough had a more-than-memorable collegiate career. He finished the 2017 season having completed 231 of 354 passes for 2,791 yards and 17 touchdowns. He set school records for completion percentage of 65.3% and a passer rating of 142.8.
Meanwhile, the Panthers finished with an 8-4 record, qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since 2011. On December 22, 2017, McGough left in the first quarter of the 2017 Gasparilla Bowl against Temple with a fractured collarbone. The Panthers would go on to lose 28-3. However, McGough would remain undaunted and has since bounced back to full health.
On April 28, the Seattle Seahawks selected McGough with the second pick in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was drafted 220 overall. McGough is just the second quarterback drafted by the Seahawks under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
On Tuesday (May 15) McGough signed his rookie contract, thus making official his bid for a roster spot on the 2018 Seahawks. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with him regarding his professional aspirations, his time at FIU, and the motivation of playing behind one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
First off, Alex…How are you feeling during workouts? How is the collarbone holding up?
Physically, I feel great My collarbone has healed 100%. I feel that I’m in great physical shape and physical form. Mentally…I’m just doing the best I can to learn as much as I can from a great group of veterans in Seattle. My goal is to fit in, but also perform up to my standards. It is an amazing experience to learn from veterans like Russell Wilson and Austin Davis. The more I learn and the harder I work, the better prepared I will be to make my contributions when my time is called.
You had several career highlights this past year at FIU, such as throwing for a 75-yard touchdown pass in the season opener against UCF. The next week, you threw for a season-high 328 yards and ran in the game-winning touchdown against Alcorn State. Also, we can’t forget the 19-point comeback win over Charlotte. What would be your most memorable moment and how have you applied some of the success that you’ve had into this next phase in your career?
I’d say that it would be the last game that I played at home for FIU. We played the UMASS Minutemen and scored 63 and in the process set a school record for most points scored in a game. To have that be my final home game, gave me an amazing chance to leave a legacy for which I will always be grateful. I had three touchdown passes and a 60-yard rushing touchdown. I truly feel that was my best game at FIU. I really got the chance to do it all that day, supported by a great coaching staff and teammates.
In terms of applying a great teaching moment to my journey in Seattle, I have probably learned those lessons off the field, as much on it. The great moment that will always be with me for the rest of my life actually did not occur during a game. Our first team meeting before the Gasparilla Bowl really defined our team chemistry. The coaches, players…we all came together as a family. We had dreamed of getting to compete in a Bowl Game. Winning was the goal. However, we felt an enormous amount of pride, knowing that our hard work and determination gave us the chance to bring home a Bowl Game win.
As a native New Englander, I have a great deal of respect for Pete Carroll. As you embark on your rookie season, what are your thoughts on playing for him?
It’s been an honor to get to know Coach Carroll through speaking with him post-draft and during rookie mini-camp. From what I have seen, he is a great coach and a great leader. He has a way of getting his team to play the game for the right reasons. He has a team first, passionate approach, and stresses that every step of the way. As teammates, we should compete with ourselves and not each other. (a-la “be better than you were yesterday”) That is an approach that I admire and complements the way I want to play the game of football. Being a Super Bowl-winning coach with the Seahawks, as well as a National Championship Head Coach at USC, he commands respect by reputation. But, his conduct on the field earns that respect. It’s truly an honor to have been drafted by the Seahawks and get the opportunity to play for Coach Carroll.
You are the first quarterback drafted by the Seahawks since Russell Wilson in 2012 and only the second quarterback drafted since Mike Teel in 2009. Does that come with some added motivation or pressure?
Heading into the Draft, you try to imagine the best, but you plan for every scenario. I was prepared for the thought of being drafted or trying to enter the league as an undrafted free agent. Being drafted by the Seahawks was a dream come true. While I wouldn’t say that the draft status adds extra pressure or stress, I’m always motivated to make the most significant impact that I can. Russell Wilson is an amazing quarterback. His example is great motivation, in and of itself. I look forward to heading to work every day and learning from one of the best in the league. It won’t happen overnight. But I approach each day with a fresh outlook and fresh motivation to reach the level of play that I know I’m capable of achieving.
Playing QB in the NFL comes with an inherent prestige. In short, whether as a starter, or back-up, there are a lot of eyes on those that play the position. Who are some of the QB that you admire in handling the game on and off the field?
To be honest, Russell (Wilson) has always been someone that I admired; not just for his gameplay but for his professionalism. He’s as focused and as serious of an athlete that I’ve ever been around. Just yesterday (Tuesday) I saw him in a team meeting, intensely taking notes. It was like he was hearing the information for the first time. He’s a six-year veteran, but it’s still fresh and important to him. You hear about that trait being in all of the great quarterbacks that have played this game. That impressed me and set an example that I’m going to follow for as long as I wear pads. On the field, our styles of play are similar too….athletic, moving around in the pocket…that’s how I like to play the game. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) and Alex Smith (Washington) are two others that I admire, as well. I try to emulate all three of them when I play. During my time at FIU, I have tried to take elements from their games and intertwine them with mine. I’m so fortunate to be able to learn from Russell, first-hand. I will definitely be taking the lessons I learn from him each day and apply it to my career in the NFL.
As you approach the 2018 season, what are some of your personal goals and aspirations in playing for the Seahawks?
For me, the most important thing is to help the team in any way that I can. Obviously, Russell is our starting quarterback. However, I will do whatever I can to help him and my teammates succeed on the field, and away from it as well. Studying and learning are going be two major components of my season, and I embrace that. At the same time, if I can offer my insight to help him (or our coaching staff) with a play or a read, I will definitely take that opportunity. Ultimately, I have to approach each week to make myself ready to be active on the field. In the meantime, I’m happy to do whether it takes to help my team win. In the locker room, I pride myself on being a positive person that always sees opportunity. Last season at FIU, we found ourselves in a 19-point deficit against Charlotte and we came back to win the game. That taught me a lot about keeping your teammates motivated and inspired. I’m happy to bring that approach with me to Seattle.
Alex, it has been a pleasure speaking with you. We at Full Press Coverage wish you the best of success in Seattle.
Thank you, Mike. It’s an honor to be a Seahawk. I’ve been blessed with some great help along the way, too. I have to thank my parents, first and foremost. Without their support, I would not be living my dream today. I also want to give a big thanks to my quarterbacks coach, John Kaleo. He has been a great influence on my life since high school. His help, on and off the field, is a major reason why I was able to mold my game into one that could translate into a pro career. Lastly, I wanted to thank my agent, Chris Martin, for guiding me through the business side of professional football and helping me to raise my draft stock. I hope my actions on and off the field can truly express my deep gratitude to them.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC