The note on Kc McDermott’s bathroom mirror, typed in all caps and printed out on white paper, has two questions.
“What are you going to be doing on Feb. 5th, 2014? And what are you doing today to ensure that?”
This week, the 6-foot-7, 285-pound 16-year-old offensive tackle is visiting Notre Dame and Miami. By the end of this week, McDermott, one of the top recruits in the nation, will choose between the two schools, ending one of the most-followed recruiting sagas of the Class of 2014.
If he has his way, McDermott won’t be mugging for cameras and signing a national letter of intent Feb. 5, 2014, next year’s national signing day. He’ll be practicing with a BCS football team: He’s on pace to graduate in December from Palm Beach Central High and enroll early in college.
But this week’s decision merely marks one spot on McDermott’s decade-long quest toward a clear goal: Playing college football at its highest level.
Molding a “monster”
Kc McDermott, with his dark, scruffy beard and prototypical left tackle’s body that has high school and college coaches already talking about his NFL prospects, is the youngest of three McDermott brothers. The eldest, Tyler, played at Colorado State. The middle brother, Shane, is the starting center at Miami.
“And he’s better than all of them,” former Seminole Ridge associate head coach Justin Hilliker said last fall. “He’s a monster on that field.”
Tyler and Shane’s paths to college football educated Kc, giving him a template for training and practicing. They drilled those lessons into the youngest McDermott’s mind on Sunday mornings, the most famous (or infamous) day on the family’s busy weekly calendar.
“They taught me to push my body and my mind to their limits,” Kc says.
Like mother, like father
Kc’s parents met at Ohio University. Randy was a baseball player and Johnnie a basketball star, the fourth-leading rebounder in program history.
Johnnie, who grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, is all of 6 feet. Randy, a Philadelphia-area native, has an inch or two on her.
Randy’s booming voice and no-nonsense-but-cool persona makes him the perfect mentor for his boys. Johnnie’s warmth and gentle charm complements Randy, though she’s just as deliberate as her husband.
The McDermotts made two rules for their young boys and adhered to them for the next 12 years.
First, for everything they did, they would give 110 percent.
“Brushing your teeth — 110 percent. Showering — 110 percent. Combing your hair — 110 percent,” Johnnie says. “Everything you do matters.”
Second, each boy would do an activity outside of school. It could be chess, debate, sports, rocket-building.
“They weren’t going to sit in their rooms playing video games,” says Randy.
The boys bounced from baseball to basketball to football to golf to hockey.
A much younger Kc squealed with excitement as his family drove back from his first Florida Panthers game. He wanted to be a goaltender.
Kc started at Wellington-based Athletes’ Advantage, the McDermott boys’ athletic training gym of choice, in the fourth grade.
Athletes’ owners and trainers, Sean Benevides and Ed Smith, keep a photo of Kc on the wall of their gym that foreshadows a future in football. There Kc is — no beard yet — almost entirely filling the frame as a gaggle of pint-sized peers encircle their massive friend.
The photo is signed “Thanks for the help! — Kc McDermott.”
But before he started personal training at Athletes’ as a youngster, he started his dad’s rigorous program, and he still has another eight months of it.
Sundays with the McDermotts
Johnnie filmed every game the boys played growing up. On Sundays, Randy sat down with his sons and watched the film.
“There are so many things you can learn from the film,” Randy starts.
“Oh, God,” Kc cuts in, leaning back into his kitchen chair as if there’s somewhere to hide his enormous frame.
“Is that as fast as you can run? Is that the best you can box out? The tape doesn’t lie,” Randy continues.
And so they’d critique their every move. When the film sessions ended, the physical work began.
No football. Just dad, three boys and a lot of sweat.
“The sidewalk was about three-quarters of a mile, so it started out as eight minutes, then seven, then less,” Kc says.
Randy interrupts Kc to recite the family mantra.
“It’s Sunday — what are your peers doing?” Randy says, delivering the line as easily as he breathes.
The McDermotts, who both work in sales, moved out of their 3,100-square-foot home on the western borders of Lake Worth and Wellington and relocated to a smaller two-story house in a quiet eastern Lake Worth community, yards from the intracoastal. Only Kc lives there now with his parents.
Shane’s hardly home, fully involved in his year-round football life at Miami. Tyler rarely gets home, either. In March, Notre Dame hired the Colorado State alum as a graduate assistant, days after he’d signed a lease on a new apartment in Colorado.
Randy insists the hiring has nothing to do with Kc’s recruitment, and says Tyler made it clear to Notre Dame’s coaching staff he would not help them recruit his brother, an Under Armour All-American who already has met Al Golden, Brian Kelly, Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp and Nick Saban. Shane also has vowed not to influence his brother’s choice.
Because college-affiliated personnel cannot discuss recruits, neither of McDermott’s brothers could comment for this story.
Kc knows after he signs his national letter of intent and enrolls in school his view on the totem pole will drastically change. He’ll go from coveted recruit to college freshman who has to prove himself all over again.. His brothers taught him that.
“He knows something else is coming,” Randy says. “There’s a day of reckoning for every recruit.”
Where that day comes doesn’t matter. It could be Notre Dame, which holds a special place in Kc’s heart and would please his late Irish Catholic grandfather. Or it could be Miami, the hometown team whose colors are a constant in Kc’s life, from his car to his Miami-themed bedroom.
Either way, Kc says he’ll be prepared.
“All the stuff (his brothers) did or do in college and bring back home, plus what my dad and coaches have taught me,” Kc says. “All that made me want to do this even more.”
As if he needed more motivation.