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Leighton McCarthy didn’t start playing football until his junior year at Wekiva High in Apopka. Five years later he has the possibility of becoming a member of the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs.
McCarthy, who went on from Wekiva to play at FAU, went undrafted during this past weekend’s NFL Draft, but that didn’t bother him.
He figured he’d get his NFL opportunity in some fashion, Womens Leighton McCarthy Jersey, and that will come as an undrafted free agent after he signed a contract with the Bucs.
“Really I was just hoping to get an opportunity. It didn’t really matter if I got drafted or not,” McCarthy said. “My agent told me right after the draft it was between the Bucs and the Steelers and with me it was kind of a no-brainer.
“I wanted to stay in Florida where it’s sunny than go to Pittsburgh where it’s cold. But either way, it didn’t matter where I went. I just wanted the opportunity with somebody.”
Florida Atlantic Owls linebacker Leighton McCarthy (13) in action against the Massachusetts Minutemen during an NCAA football game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)
Florida Atlantic Owls linebacker Leighton McCarthy (13) in action against the Massachusetts Minutemen during an NCAA football game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves) (Michael Reaves/AP)
He’ll get that opportunity with a team that drafted three linebackers in the draft. The Bucs selected Washington’s Joe Tryon in the first round, Game Leighton McCarthy Jersey, then took Auburn’s K.J. Britt in Round 5 and capped their selections with Houston’s Grant Stuard, who was the 259th and final player chosen in the draft.
McCarthy is projected as an edge rusher/outside linebacker.
“For me, I still have to show that they can use me,” McCarthy said. “With them drafting three linebackers, it’s just more competition and I enjoy competition, so it doesn’t really bother me. I’m still going out there and fighting for a spot.
“I try to go out and prove myself every day. I don’t think I’ve made it. I’m self-dedicated and I just go out there and do the best I can do.”
In 50 career games at FAU, McCarthy had 161 tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. He also had an interception and two forced fumbles. Last season McCarthy (6-foot-2, 226 pounds) was asked to change positions to defensive end and thrived with 40 tackles — 12 for loss as well as nine sacks — and he was named second-team all-Conference USA.
“I enjoyed being there and did a lot of big things, won championships and made life-long friends,” McCarthy said. “I’m glad I came to FAU.”
David Kelly, FAU’s coordinator of player personnel, had nothing but good things to say about McCarthy when reached on Sunday.
“For as good as he is as a football player, Leighton is an even better person,” Kelly said. “He has all of the intangibles.”
LB Leighton McCarthy, Wekiva, 6-2, 210, Senior The Buzz: Registered 20 sacks and 49 tackles along with five pass breakups and a fumble recovery for Mustangs.
LB Leighton McCarthy, Wekiva, 6-2, 210, Senior The Buzz: Registered 20 sacks and 49 tackles along with five pass breakups and a fumble recovery for Mustangs. (Chris Hays)
Coming out of Wekiva High, McCarthy was a little-known commodity despite his impressive play for the Mustangs. McCarthy was the No. 16-ranked player in the Sentinel’s 2016 Central Florida Super60 and had 20 sacks as a senior, but FAU was the only Football Bowl Subdivision program to offer him a scholarship.
Now he has a shot to play with the Super Bowl-champion Bucs.
“It’s funny, because I had an interview before the third day of the draft, on Friday,” McCarthy said, “and they asked me if I had a choice, Leighton McCarthy Jersey Amazon, what team would I got to, and I just so happened to say the Buccaneers. You don’t get the chance to be on the same field as Tom Brady too often, and if I do make that roster, I get to do that every day.
“I’m very optimistic. I know I can be a great help to that team and help them win games.”