‘Special talent’ Tre McBride aims to play out lifelong dream in NFL

Tre McBride (Jim Agnew/William & Mary Athletics)

From the time he was old enough to throw a football in the backyard with his father and rambunctiously leap fake defenders in the form of living room furniture, all Tre McBride ever wanted to do was to play in the NFL.

He’s not alone. Like hundreds of other NFL hopefuls, McBride’s fate will be decided this week in the 2015 NFL Draft.

McBride, a 6-foot, 210-pound receiver, is hoping to become the first William & Mary offensive player to be drafted since 1992. By all accounts, he has done well on the pre-draft circuit. McBride held his own against FBS-talent and was a star at the East-West Shrine Game. He really put himself on the map with a blazing 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

Since then, he’s worked out privately for the Texans and met with the Lions, Broncos and Bills. Most draft analysts project he’ll go in the third or fourth round.

But McBride is trying to stay even-keeled. He knows nothing is a given, and he learned early on that at the highest levels of football, everything is about business.

In the summer leading up to his senior year at Ola (McDonough, Ga.) High School, McBride and his Army colonel father dutifully waded through the camp circuit, making stops at big-name FBS schools. Auburn. Mississippi State. Southern Mississippi. Georgia. Northwestern. Duke. Maryland. Virginia.

The only real hit Tre got came from Duke. The Blue Devils had offered him a scholarship a few weeks before, and at Duke’s camp, head coach David Cutcliffe invited the McBrides into his office and asked Tre to commit.

But Tre wasn’t ready. There were still several camps remaining on his itinerary and he wanted to finish out and evaluate his options.

Unfortunately, by the time Tre called Cutcliffe back to commit, the Blue Devils told him they no longer had a spot for him.

“I’d never seen my son so depressed,” Doug McBride Jr. said. “He went into a great depression for a week.”

To Tre, his dreams of playing FBS football vanished. Duke was an FBS school in the ACC. And for an undersized 174-pound receiver who actually played wingback in his high school’s triple-option scheme, those offers didn’t come too frequently.

At that point, all the extra work he’d put in — early mornings, weekends and evenings with his personal trainer, extra drills and skill work — seemed futile.

“In that moment, it was a huge setback,” Doug McBride said. “His mom and I coached him up and said ‘It’s OK, you’re still going to get a scholarship. More offers will come.’”

Tre McBride grabs one of his 11 receptions against Villanova last season. (Jim Agnew/William & Mary Athletics)
Tre McBride grabs one of his 11 receptions against Villanova last season. (Jim Agnew/William & Mary Athletics)

They did. The military academies took an interest in Tre because of his father’s Army ties. But Tre didn’t want the academy life. Northwestern offered him a scholarship to play cornerback. He demurred.

Then William & Mary got involved. Assistant coach David Corley first spotted Tre at Virginia’s football camp and he took an immediate interest in the receiver. He got to know the McBrides, went to all of Tre’s basketball games and convinced him to take an official visit.

Once Tre visited the Tribe’s Williamsburg, Va., campus, he was sold. William & Mary’s FCS status didn’t faze him.

“They’ve had players in the NFL,” Tre McBride said. “But I knew I would have to be extra special in my time (in Williamsburg) to get there.”

That’s what he was for the Tribe.

“When he came in, it was very obvious right away that he was a special talent. You could see him out there – a natural. That’s why he played as a true freshman,” William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock said. “When he got here, it was pretty obvious to me he could have played on any level.”

Tre played as a freshman and earned a starting role his sophomore year onward. His speed, superior route-running ability and versatility as a kick returner separated him from other receivers in the Colonial Athletic Association. By Tre’s senior year, NFL scouts were showing up at William & Mary practices to watch him. On April 4, representatives from 18 teams attended McBride’s pro day workout.

That’s when he realized that he had a true shot at the NFL.

Now, the anticipation all comes to a head.

On Thursday, Tre and his family will gather at his apartment in Williamsburg to watch the draft. No matter what happens, Tre is satisfied with everything he’s done to this point to answer questions about his ability and position himself for the NFL.

“All I can do is control what I can through the present time, and the chips are going to fall where they are,” Tre said. “When draft day comes, it’ll be where the chips fall.”


  • Ranks second in career receptions at William & Mary (196)
  • Ranks third in 100-yard receiving games (8)
  • Ranks fifth in receiving yards (2,653)
  • Ranks fifth in all-purpose yards (4,281)
  • Ranks fifth in kickoff return yards (1,294)
  • Tied for sixth in touchdown catches (19)

Stefanie Loh

Stefanie Loh is a freelance writer based in San Diego.