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Life Lessons
November 27, 2008
By Wendell Barnhouse
Big 12 Correspondent

Symmetry should be perfect, a Hakuna Matata circle of life. If that was the case, what goes around would come around for Stephen McGee.

A Hollywood producer like Jerry Bruckheimer would script it like this: Texas A&M trailing Texas by six with four minutes to go and the ball on their own one-yard line. McGee would enter the game at quarterback and lead the Aggies on the game-winning touchdown drive.

"That would be nice," McGee said with a chuckle. "I know my role right now and it's a little bit different. I'm ready for whatever happens. I'm gonna finish strong. Nothing that's happened this season has been in my control."

But the Texas A&M senior quarterback is not expected to start Thursday night when the Aggies play at Texas. McGee, whose senior season has been ruined by a sprained throwing shoulder, could see playing time in place of sophomore starter Jerrod Johnson.

As a freshman in 2005, McGee made his first start against the Longhorns. Texas was on its way to a national championship but McGee took hit after hit in running for 112 yards and two touchdowns as the Aggies stayed in the game deep into the second half.

In 2006, McGee scored on an 8-yard run to cap a grinding 16-play drive that gave the Aggies a 12-7 victory. Last year, he had a career-high 362 yards passing A&M's 38-30 victory at Kyle Field.

McGee has never regretted his decision to become an Aggie. He was recruited by teams like Texas, Oklahoma, USC and Georgia but he chose Texas A&M because he believed he could help the team win a national championship.

But while he says "everything went right" in high school, it's been mostly Murphy's Law at Texas A&M. McGee was a prolific passer in high school but coach Dennis Franchione wanted McGee to run an option offense. Like a good soldier, McGee followed orders. He also defended Franchione during his stormy career in College Station.

"I hate to say my first four years prepared me for this year but I'd have to say so," McGee said. "I've thought about what if what was the opposite, if things were different. What if we were playing for the national championship, I was a Heisman candidate, everything's going right. Maybe I'd be so danged arrogant nobody would like me.

"I've gotten so many lessons I've learned, it's made me a better person, a stronger man. That's not a trophy you can put in a case. That will stay with me the rest of my life."

When the school hired Mike Sherman as Franchione's replacement, McGee hoped that he would showcase his passing skills in Sherman's offense. He dreams of playing in the NFL and he doesn't want Thursday's Texas game to be his last. His coach believes that McGee has what it takes to be a pro quarterback.

"He can play the position as well as anybody out there," Sherman said. "He's just had an unfortunate year. I have absolutely no reservations recommending him to anybody, and I already have."

The 23-year-old McGee graduated last spring with a degree in business/marketing and his working on his Master's. He admits that he hasn't spent this season with a smile plastered on his face.

"I've had a lot of down times this season," he said. "I had huge expectations and a great opportunity. We had a lot of young guys but I was excited to go out there and throw the ball. I knew I was going to have a good year.

"I just know that at the end of the day I have faith in God and he has a plan for my life. I'll be all right. I committed to this school and this team and I want to be faithful to that commitment and help the team be successful. It's not about me, it's about the team."

McGee doesn't see himself as another assistant coach giving Johnson advice and suggestions. He considers himself a sounding board, someone who's available whenever Johnson needs a teammate's perspective.

No matter what the outcome or how much McGee plays, Thanksgiving night in Austin will be the last time McGee suits up as an Aggie.

"I'll be a little sad it's my last game at A&M," he said. "That will be tough. Part of me knows that I'll be moving on, hopefully to other successful things I've dreamed of since I was a little boy. It's going to be bittersweet."

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