GVSU's McKissic solidifying role as starting cornerback

McKissic made the game winning interception against Ohio Dominican Oct. 1

By Beau Troutman | 10/5/16 11:10pm

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GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Devin McKissic (30) and company celebrate his game winning interception. The Lakers square off against the Panthers of Ohio Dominican University Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 and win with a final score of 24-21 in Columbus, OH.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

He will tell you he just brings his one-eleventh to the defense. He admires Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman—not for his brash confidence, but for his wits and intelligence. His favorite movie is Goodfellas.

His name is Devin McKissic.

McKissic, a sophomore cornerback and the GLIAC Defensive Player of the Week, made a clutch interception with 17 seconds left in Grand Valley State’s 24-21 road win over the Ohio Dominican Panthers last Saturday, Oct. 1.

“I don’t think (McKissic) ever thanked me and (starting receiver) Matt Williams for saying a prayer for him before that play,” said GVSU quarterback Bart Williams. We were praying to God to get a stop. I’m still expecting that thank you.”

The interception saved the Lakers’ (5-0) undefeated season and ended a Panthers’ rally that saw them outscore GVSU 21-7 in the second half, after the Lakers led 17-0 at halftime.

McKissic leads the Lakers with seven pass-breakups this season.

Though their names aren’t Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci or Ray Liotta, McKissic is a part of an experienced and talented secondary along with fellow cornerback Tre Walton, safety Garret Pougnet, safety Donte Carey and nickel Marquez Gollman.

With Walton missing the last two games with an ankle injury, sophomore Jacob Studdard and redshirt freshman Kalen Dunham have embodied what McKissic calls the “next man up” mentality the defensive backfield players have.

“I thought McKissic played a really good game,” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell. “I thought all three of our corners, even though they’re young, played a really good game. They made some tackles and did some nice things for our football team. Obviously, it gets highlighted by Devin’s play, which was huge at that point in time. It saved us the win.”

Mitchell said McKissic’s biggest improvement from last year is his consistency, something he had trouble with as a freshman.

“The difference between high school and college football, one thing I learned is, you’ve got to be locked in every play, make sure you play with discipline,” McKissic said. “If you don’t have that, you’re going to get exploited.”

Focus has been his biggest improvement, but McKissic briefly lost that focus this past summer.

McKissic used to wear jersey No. 1. During training camp, McKissic said he “got in trouble.” The coaches stripped him of the No. 1, and gave him No. 30, which he wears now.

McKissic took it as a learning experience, and his actions from there forward weren’t so much about a jersey number, but earning back his teammates’ trust.

“I had to earn the respect of my teammates back,” McKissic said. “I wasn’t really too concerned about the number change, I just wanted to make sure I was still going to get the opportunity to be a part of the team.”

Suffice it to say, the interception at Ohio Dominican was a good way of earning that respect back.

The ODU interception wasn’t the first time McKissic has made a clutch play. In the first round playoff game versus Ashland last year, McKissic made an interception that led to the Lakers’ first touchdown of the game.

McKissic describes himself as a playmaker, and is confident he can stay at the top of his game even in the most pressure-filled situations. He mentioned a mantra the football team has used this season, “T.N.T, takes no talent,” that emphasizes doing the little things right and doing their “one-eleventh” on the field.

Ferris State will be at GVSU for potentially the most important game of the regular season this Saturday, Oct. 8. No matter the situation Saturday, McKissic’s teammates can count on him to do his one-eleventh.

“I just try to think that every play is coming to me and even if I’m not in man coverage, or if I’m in zone, I just like to think that the offensive concept is coming toward me, and be in the right position to be able to make a play.”

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