Orlando McKinley joined the FAMU football coaching staff this season as a graduate assistant.
McKinley was a phenomenal four-year starting cornerback for FAMU who was named an HBCU All-American three times as well as all-MEAC. He holds the FAMU and MEAC records for the longest interception return of 100 yards.
After graduating FAMU in 2019 with a degree in psychology, McKinley set out to follow his dreams of becoming a professional athlete. But due to the worldwide epidemic, COVID-19 and unforeseen circumstances, McKinley started a new dream of becoming a college football coach.
Joshua Addison, McKinley’s teammate for four years, said that McKinley is a self determined individual.
“He doesn’t need a kick start or be told to do his job. He always puts forth his maximum effort towards completing his goal,” Addison said.
McKinley started his coaching career in Atlanta, his hometown at Bannaker High School, where he coached football and track.
McKinley said that that coaching job prepared him for the graduate assistant position at FAMU.
The graduate assistant position is a three-year paid program that gives people with a dream of coaching a chance to learn from head coaches while gaining experience on their resume, in addition to gaining a master’s degree in their desired field.
McKinley wants to pursue a career in coaching because he has been playing football for 21 years.
“My dad taught be about the game of football first,” McKinley said. “I think that it would be selfish of me to know all about this game, have all this experience, and not teach it to someone else.”
Graduate assistant programs are available at any college, but McKinley chose to come back to FAMU with intent.
“FAMU is home,” McKinley said. “After graduating I realized how much FAMU meant to me, and I wouldn’t feel the same anywhere else. “Having the opportunity to coach with the staff that coached me is something to not pass on.” he added.
Ricky Murray Jr, a redshirt junior defensive back, said he enjoys being coached by McKinley.
“We learn a lot from him because he was once in our shoes and understands what we are going through and where we are trying to be in our careers,” Murray said. “It’s great having a coach who’s like a big brother out there that knows us and has been able to help us develop and grow more by giving great insight to the game.”
McKinley said that the graduate assistant program is the first major step to being a college coach.
“When playing football, it takes hard work to play, and it’s the same process with coaching,” he said. “I plan to work hard everyday until I become successful in obtaining my goals.”