YOUNGSTOWN - Thousands of athletes are blessed with incredible talent, but it's what they do with it that determines their greatness.
Cardinal Mooney High School graduate Kyle McCarthy has struck end zone gold from all areas of the field, and from each phase of the game. However, his gifts alone didn't make him a champion in high school, a starter at Notre Dame, and a special teams performer with the Denver Broncos.
"Kyle has played for Notre Dame and is now a Denver Bronco, so his athletic ability speaks for himself, but what really separates him from other players is his determination," Mooney coach P.J. Fecko said. "His determination and dedication have taken him a long way. Kyle is the type of person that the more you tell him he can't do something, the more he's going to do it."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Cardinal Mooney coach P.J. Fecko, left, and former Mooney and Notre Dame football player, now with the Denver Broncos, Kyle McCarthy, talked to Fecko during Monday’s annual Camp of Champions.
McCarthy started 38 games for Notre Dame, where he established defensive records. He signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos, and appeared in eight games last season.
That's impressive for any athlete, but McCarthy wants more, and he knows what he has to do.
"I just have to keep working hard and competing," McCarthy said at Cardinal Mooney's annual Camp of Champions football camp on Monday. "You can never stop getting better, working and fine-tuning your skills. Hopefully that all translates to success on the field, and winning games."
Kyle McCarthy file
2005 graduate of Cardinal Mooney.
Graduated Notre Dame with a degree in finance.
As a Mooney senior, he rushed 135 times for 1,273 yards and 14 TDs and completed 32 of 74 passes for 557 yards and five TDs at quarterback ... On defense in 2004, he had 70 tackles and five interceptions ... Returned two interceptions for scores at defensive back in 2004, including a record 93-yard return in the state championship game ... Made 13 punt returns for 240 yards and two TDs in 2004 ... Was MVP of the 2004 state title game ... A 2004 all-state honoree at quarterback.
At Notre Dame, he tallied 139 career tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two pass breakups and one forced fumble, and set school record for most tackles by a defensive back in a season in 2008.
McCarthy's approach comes with a solid sense of the challenges that face him.
"Everyone in the league is bigger, faster, and stronger - it's a whole different ball game," McCarthy said. "But that's why you play the game - to get on the field on Sundays, to compete against the best athletes in the world, and I couldn't be more excited about that."
With lofty goals set, and a plan in hand, McCarthy's National Football League future is on hold due to the lockout.
"It's unfortunate, and it's been tough on the players, the owners, and the coaches," McCarthy said. "But the players want to get back on the field and play football - that's what we love to do, and we're just waiting to hear the word to get back, and we'll be ready to go."
When the NFL gets rolling again, McCarthy will begin to acclimate himself with new Broncos coach John Fox, who took over for the fired Josh McDaniels. Fox led the Carolina Panthers for nine seasons prior to coming to Denver.
"I think coach Fox is great - he has a great track record and has had a lot of success in the NFL," McCarthy said. "Obviously he has a great football mind, and I really can't wait to learn under him, and win some games."
Fecko thinks McCarthy can go as far as he wants. Based on his progression, that could be pretty far, but the foundation will never change.
"I learned on this field that I apply every day," McCarthy said. "Cardinal Mooney helped make me the player I am, and wouldn't trade my experience here for anything."