Max McCaffrey forges own path at Duke to become team-leading receiver

first_imgMax McCaffrey didn’t grow up in the typical athletic family. His father, Ed, spent 13 seasons in the NFL and his mother played three years of Division I soccer at Stanford. His grandfather and two uncles spent their college days at Duke playing sports such as baseball, track and field, basketball and football.When it came time to choose a school to play football, McCaffrey chose Duke over Stanford — his parents’ alma mater — and a host of other offers because he felt at home. He enjoyed the environment head coach David Cutcliffe was building.McCaffrey’s official visit to Durham, North Carolina allowed him to see Cutcliffe’s vision for the team and he knew Duke was a place where he could help mold a program on the rise, he said.For someone trying to build on his family’s legacy and forge his own, Duke provided the perfect opportunity.“I’m proud of my family and all the success they’ve had individually,” McCaffrey said. “… But I’m my own person and player. I enjoy being a part of something bigger than myself and building things up.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe senior leads the Blue Devils with 503 receiving yards on 42 receptions and three touchdowns, but wide receivers coach Jeffrey Faris said that McCaffrey’s off-field influence almost outweighs anything he does on the field.He leads weekly film sessions for the receivers and in the offseason, McCaffrey coordinated and ran training sessions each week where quarterback Thomas Sirk would throw passes as the receivers practiced running routes.“Max leads this team’s receivers by example and does so very well,” Faris said. “He wants to have the best group possible and he holds everyone accountable on his way to elevating the play of everyone around him.”McCaffrey’s knack for leading began growing up. The oldest of four boys, McCaffrey enjoyed a childhood of fishing, video games, basketball in the driveway and football games in the backyard with his brothers. He taught his brothers the right way to compete, Ed said, and it’s rooted in their backyard games.McCaffrey’s younger brother Christian, now a sophomore running back at Stanford, has stolen a good chunk of the national spotlight as his 241.8 all-purpose yards per game leads the Football Bowl Subdivision. McCaffery won’t take any credit for his brother’s success, but he did lend a helping hand as Christian started playing football — teaching his brother how to put on pads, mold a mouthpiece and properly lift weights.While McCaffrey’s time at Duke reflects similar guidance, Faris said most of the leadership happens by example. In a four-overtime win over Virginia Tech this season, McCaffrey  “outworked every other player” to make play after play, including the Duke’s first two touchdowns and plays to set up game-extending scores in overtime.Faris remembers finding his star receiver after the game amid the postgame scrum to tell McCaffrey just how proud he was of his effort and toughness throughout the game.Even playing high school basketball, McCaffrey found a way to win.With seconds remaining on the clock and his team down one point, McCaffrey stepped to the free-throw line to shoot once. The shot bounced off the front rim, his father recalled, and McCaffrey slipped by all five players in the paint. He leapt to catch his own rebound midair and followed with a put-back to win the game.“I think it was sheer will to win that allowed him to get to the ball and put it in,” Ed said. “He’s going to give his teammates and team everything that he’s got every single time he puts on a uniform.”Faris praised McCaffrey’s commitment to running cleaner routes, getting stronger to block on the outside and working on his ability to catch deep balls. As this season winds down, McCaffrey feels confident that he’s left his own distinct legacy with Duke football.“It would be easy for a kid whose father had success to feel entitled, but Max is the furthest thing from that,” Faris said. “He’s worked to become a very good receiver regardless of what his last name is.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 18, 2015 at 9:21 pm Contact Liam: [email protected]last_img read more