Terrell Buckely with the Patriots. (AP)
Denver McQuary pulls down an interception against Amory. (Deste Lee)
Houston DB Denver McQuary broke Mississippi’s career interceptions record last week. McQuary picked three passes at Rosa Fort to get to 32, breaking the record of 30 held by four players, including former NFL MVP Steve McNair (Mount Olive) and Super Bowl winner with the Patriots Terrell Buckley (Pascagoula).
I got in touch with Buckely, now a cornerbacks coach at Louisville, who set the record at 30 in 1988.
“Make sure you tell him congratulations,” Buckley said. “Records, that’s what they’re meant to be is broken and that’s impressive. I was very, very excited when I heard the news. Congratulations to him. That’s awesome.”
Buckley was a pick machine in the NFL. He had a pick in 13 consecutive seasons with the Packers, Dolphins, Broncos, Patriots, Jets and Giants. His 50 career picks ranks 35th all time.
McQuary is a Mississippi State baseball commit. Like the double play on the diamond, the interception is one of the game’s most intricate plays.
“Especially for corners, say if you’re in bump and run technique, you have to control the wide receiver, judge his speed, see if he’s running intermediate routes and then finally once you get him under control, to turn, find the ball, judge it, time your step up or whatever you want to do, attack the ball, usually trying catch it at the highest point, snatching it, tucking it because you don’t want to receiver to do it, and maintaining that, I would say yes. That’s a lot of stuff in one play,” Buckley said.
It’s not for the lighthearted either. Good defensive backs will be posted on the opponent’s best receivers. McQuary had a pick-6 that sealed a playoff-opening win at Corinth. Buckley had a pick in the Patriots 2001 AFC title win against Pittsburgh and two weeks later won a Super Bowl ring with New England.
“You better have a short memory,” Buckley said. “It’s tough and if you take a play off, it’s a touchdown. That’s really so much pressure on you. Some other positions, maybe you can take a play off or something or make a mistake. On that island, you can’t do it. Everybody sees. It’s like playing quarterback. Everybody sees it.”
Buckey said a lot of what great corners have is God-given. He tries to teach percentages and angles and work on handles every day, catching at the highest point, hand position, bad balls, etc.
“I think if you’re blessed with it and you practice the right way, it can turn into something beautiful,” Buckley said. “If you’re not blessed with it and you work on it, you can develop some ball skills.”