A new legacy: Alcorn’s McNair Jr. won’t let family history affect his journey

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

The name McNair is synonymous with Alcorn State University football.

When Brave fans hear the name McNair, they more than likely think of former legendary Alcorn quarterback Steve “Air II” McNair — who finished third in the Heisman voting and had pro scouts visiting Lorman regularly in 1994. But that isn’t the only McNair etched in Alcorn lore.

There is the original “Air McNair” and current Alcorn State head coach Fred McNair — who lit up opposing defenses from the signal caller position in high school, college and at the professional level in the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League. Then there is the third brother, Tim McNair, who caught plenty of touchdowns from his brother Steve during his career in a Brave uniform.

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While those three McNairs immediately come to mind, Alcorn State fans might need to start learning a new McNair name this year. But when it comes to the latest McNair to play in Lorman, the family legacy doesn’t cross his mind often.

“I doesn’t affect me,” said Alcorn State wide receiver Tim McNair Jr. “In high school, I was always even keel. I didn’t let the pressure get to me. So when I came here, that is what people first asked me, ‘Will you live up to your family legacy?’ I am not even going to worry about that. I just plan to be the best I can be.”

McNair Jr., the son of Tim McNair, redshirted during his first year in Lorman. But entering Year 2, the younger McNair is expected to be one of the focal points in Alcorn’s passing attack.

When McNair Jr. first arrived at Alcorn, he was a skinny receiver with solid height — he stands 6-foot-2. So his first season was dedicated to getting stronger.

“I have just been lifting weights,”  McNair Jr. said. “When I came in, I was on the small side.”

Not only was McNair Jr. focused on building more muscle, he was picking veterans such as Norlando Veals and Marquis Warford’s brains.

The biggest thing he learned from Veals and Warford was that a receiver needs to have a short term memory McNair Jr. said. That means a defensive back might win the battle once in awhile but that can’t affect him. Once he gets back into the huddle, he needs to move on from the previous play.

While those were the areas McNair Jr. locked into this spring practice, the Braves were coming up with ways to expand their passing game.

“Get the ball downfield a little bit more,” Fred McNair said. “Hopefully, we can expand our passing game and get things moving in the right direction.”

Thanks to the work McNair Jr. put in during his redshirt season, he was able to run with the first team offense this spring. From what he showed, his teammates expect him to help usher in Alcorn State’s new and improved passing attack.

“Tim stood out this spring,” said quarterback Noah Johnson. “We are a run heavy team. For us to be able to pass the ball, it’s going to be really challenging for opposing defenses.

“Tim should have an impact on our success this year.”

And McNair Jr.’s coaches also predict him to be a big part of the Braves’ aerial assault this season, too.

“We have seen a lot of great stuff out of him this spring,” Fred McNair said. “We are going to be very talented at the receiver spot this season. I see him as a potential playmaker for us, but the receiver position will be competitive this year.”

Altough his uncle foresees a big 2018 season out of McNair Jr., he sees Fred McNair as a head coach first and relative second when it comes to football.

“I played for my dad in high school, so it kind of feels the same,” McNair Jr. said. “However, it is kind of different because I know how he is. He doesn’t tolerate me being lackadaisical. He wants me to be serious all the time and put in the work to become great. I can respect that. It was a smooth transition from my dad. It was all smooth.”

The young McNair has heard the stories about how great his dad and his two uncles were in the purple and gold. He has heard how his uncle Steve was so good that ESPN2 started airing SWAC Alcorn State games. But those stories don’t faze McNair Jr. and his uncle Fred sees the family legacy doesn’t worry him.

“I don’t think he feels pressured,” Fred McNair said. “But he knows the expectation when it comes to football here at Alcorn and the McNair name, and how it stands out. But he doesn’t feel pressured. He is just going to be Tim McNair who is just going to play hard like he typically does.

“He’s a very talented kid. He runs very good routes … He’s going to be a tough matchup come this fall, because he is a big kid. He’s going to do some great things for us.”

The McNair family legacy and the Braves are essentially attached at the hip. You cannot mention Alcorn State football without commenting about the McNairs.

McNair Jr. knows he has a lot of weight on his shoulders because of his last name. But he is confident that he can leave his own mark in Lorman.