Hidden Recruiting Gems: Naaman Forest's D.A. McCartney

Photo by Kelvin Rausaw

Garland Naaman Forest’s DA McCartney earned all-district honors at three different positions — wide receiver, cornerback and punt returner — following the 2017 season, and will start for the Rangers for the fourth straight season this fall. Despite an incredible resumé, McCartney holds just a single collegiate offer heading into his senior season. 

The speedy McCartney — who has clocked a 4.5 40-yard dash — has posed a threat to opposing defenses as an outside receiver because of his combination of speed and ability to high-point the football. 

“He’s so explosive. He’s about to be a four-year starter for us, and he’s probably the most dynamic player we’ve had in the last three years. He’s got a natural knack for the ball,” Naaman Forest head coach Marvin Sedberry said. ”Anytime that he has the chance to make plays, he does it. He’s one of those kids where if you throw it up he’s going to come down with it.” 

Before his junior season, defensive backs coach Eric Turner wanted to see what McCartney could do at the cornerback position. Turner had McCartney take a few snaps in practice and he was a natural fit. He earned a starting role at corner that season and in just his second game at the position, reeled in the game-clinching interception against Richardson Berkner with under two minutes remaining in the game. 

McCartney’s success on the defensive side of the ball came as no surprise to Sedberry, who said that his coaching staff has had a tough time grasping how high his ceiling is because he excels in everything they ask him to do. 

“No matter where you put him on the football field — special teams, offense, defense — if he’s on the field, good things are going to happen. He’s a natural playmaker,” Sedberry said. 

McCartney’s success on the football field has been mirrored on the track where he has seen immense success since he got to high school, winning district in the triple jump three times. McCartney also qualified for the 6A Region II qualifier in three different events last year: triple jump, 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. The speedster is also ranked in the top 10 in the nation in the 300-meter hurdles. Sedberry says that McCartney’s track success has helped elevate his game in several ways, most noticeably his confidence. 

“Track has increased his confidence. He came into high school as a real quiet kid and he knew he was good, but he didn’t know how good he could be. He started winning in track, he won the triple jump, and now he’s won district three times,” Sedberry said. “We put him in the 800-meter last year because we needed the points and he ended up winning that too.” 

That confidence has helped McCartney, who has been a captain since his freshman year, come into his own and become a real leader in the locker room. 

“I bring energy [into the locker room], I get guys focused, I work really hard and have a desire to get better,” McCartney said. 

McCartney seems to check all the boxes, yet his offer list only includes just one school: Stephen F. Austin, who is recruiting him as a corner. The lack of recruiting attention has puzzled Sedberry and leads him to believe that McCartney’s 6-foot 165-pound frame may be a deterring factor to college coaches. 

“I think it’s because guys aren’t doing their due diligence. At the receiver position, they’re looking for a 6-foot-4 kid and he’s not that. As a corner, he just hasn’t played it that much besides last year for us,” Sedberry said. “If you watch his film, there’s no doubt in my mind that he can succeed at the college level at either position.” 

McCartney attributes his lack of college interest to his measly numbers in the passing game, which he says are a product of the Wing-T style of offense that the Rangers utilize. McCartney posted 24 receptions for 458 yards and five touchdowns last season. It’s the same dilemma a receiver like Calvin Johnson faced when lining up Georgia Tech’s triple option scheme. McCartney doesn’t let it hold him back.

“I’m not getting a lot of attention right now because I’m a part of a Wing-T offense so I don’t get as many touches as a receiver would in a spread offense,” McCartney said. “But, what separates me is what I’m doing in punt and kickoff returns, and playing corner on defense. Anywhere that I can make a play and help the team.” 

Watch D.A.'s junior highlights here.


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