McKee at top of his game for UTEP after bout with COVID-19 in April

UTEP

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – He’s been at UTEP for three years, and now Miners fullback Forest McKee is starting to grow into his role as a senior.

Hopefully I can take on a leadership role, get these guys to trust me, get the coaching staff to trust me to just run behind me and in a few situations, put the ball in my hands,” said McKee.

The Las Cruces native an Onate High School graduate had an interesting offseason. In April, he managed a bout with COVID-19.

Mckee says it wasn’t too serious; fatigue and loss of taste and smell were his main symptoms. But now, he’s here to ensure his teammates stay healthy, a crucial part of the 2020 college football season.

“Even if it doesn’t affect someone you know, it can affect somebody,” said McKee of his message to the team. “Though it may not affect you, it could kill someone. So that’s something I tell people that I didn’t do is just take it seriously.”

McKee has had heart tests to ensure he’s completely healthy after contracting the virus. Nearly five months later, he’s as good as he’s ever been for the Miners.

“He just looks like a completely different player,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “It’s night and day how much he’s matured and grown and how much better he is at processing and how versatile he is. He can play multiple spots in our offense.”

For a Miners team that has just two wins in the last three seasons, the offense will have to be more involved and operate at a higher level in 2020. McKee thinks that could be on the horizon.

“All-in-all, it’s going to be the same stuff we’ve always done, just possibly look a little different to help us out in the long run,” McKee said.

With McKee healthy, plus bringing the power and the energy, they like their chances.

“When the pads come on its time to bring that energy because on Saturdays, everyone will have that energy,” he said.

McKee and UTEP are scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 5 at home against Stephen F. Austin. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Sun Bowl.

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