Heading into the home stretch of a historic five-year career with the Manitoba Bisons, Jayden McKoy is no longer focused on results. Instead, it’s now become all about the process.
“I’ve been in this program for six years now, I redshirted my first year. I’ve started every game since I suited up for the Bisons and I’m blessed because not a lot of people can say that,” says McKoy. “So, for me it’s not about the accolades, results, and outcomes; it’s about the process day in and day out. I know every day I give it my all.”
Despite not focusing on the accolades, McKoy’s racked up quite the trophy shelf of them. Through his career he’s been named a Canada West All-Star, a U SPORTS Valero East-West Bowl participant, been recognized as a Top 20 Canada West CFL Prospect, has 30+ tackles in every season he’s played, and has 14 career interceptions, sitting just two shy of tying the program record.
One of the more impressive things about McKoy’s play is that for the first four years of his career he wasn’t playing his natural position of safety – he primarily played as the team’s boundary half
It’s one of the most important positions on the defence. You’re often matched up with the opposing team’s best wideout, so it was a challenge for me game in and game out.
“It’s one of the most important positions on the defence” McKoy says. “You’re often matched up with the opposing team’s best wideout, so it was a challenge for me game in and game out.”
He wasn’t able to play safety because his teammate, Tyler Fong, had already locked down the starting safety spot.
“We had to get them both on the field” says Bison head coach Brain Dobie. “But I think that makes the interception record even more impressive. I mean, at safety you can roam the field and kind of do as you please, but at boundary half, there’s way less opportunities so for him to have 14 (interceptions) and be so close to the record is impressive.”
McKoy’s play on the field speaks for itself, but there’s more to him than being one of the best defensive backs in Canada. The three-time team captain exemplifies what it means to be a student -athlete. He’s been named an Academic All-Canadian three times over his career while working towards a degree in computer engineering.
He’s ‘that’ person. Not long after coming to U of M you could see the leadership written all over him. His voice, his actions, they’ve become contagious. He’s a coach on the field, one of the smartest players I’ve been around, and now in his senior years he’s really developed into a vocal leader both in games and at practice. It’s going to be really, really tough to replace him when he’s gone.
Dobie - head coach of the Bisons
“It’s tough balancing both I’m not going to lie,” says McKoy. “Being a football player is demanding, being an engineering student is demanding, so doing both is tough, but I get through it.”
His work both on and off the field even has Coach Dobie in awe.
“I don’t know how he does it, honestly, I really don’t,” Dobie says. “There’s no one, maybe outside of the quarterbacks, who can compare to him in the film room. He’s there literally all the time, sometimes with our defensive coordinator Stan Pierre. He’s such an intelligent player on the field and that’s not just luck.”
Dobie, now in his 23rd year as head coach with the Bisons, has had 48 student-athletes drafted to the CFL with a handful even getting a shot in the NFL. He described McKoy as one of the best players and leaders he’s had.
“He’s ‘that’ person. Not long after coming to U of M you could see the leadership written all over him. His voice, his actions, they’ve become contagious. He’s a coach on the field, one of the smartest players I’ve been around, and now in his senior years he’s really developed into a vocal leader both in games and at practice. It’s going to be really, really tough to replace him when he’s gone.
With the season and his U SPORTS career winding down, McKoy is relishing every last moment of his journey.
I’m happy, because I know I gave it my all, I know that day in and day out I gave everything I got to the team and to this program, so no matter what opportunity lies, I’m happy.
“All good things must come to an end right, so, I mean I’m content,” he says. “I’m happy, because I know I gave it my all, I know that day in and day out I gave everything I got to the team and to this program, so no matter what opportunity lies, I’m happy.”
McKoy got a taste of the CFL last summer as he participated at the regional combine in Winnipeg. Although his overall performance at the combine wasn’t what he had hoped, he was happy he went through the process as it humbled him going into his final year in the program.
“It was a humbling experience for me. You know, you get all the recognition about being one of the most important players on your team, one of the best players in Canada West, then that happens to me. I was disappointed in my performance, I felt like I didn’t put my best foot forward, but that was something that resonated with me and I brought that drive into this season.”
It was that experience at the combine that showed McKoy that life, and football, isn’t about the results; it’s all about the process.
“As long as day in and day out you’re doing the work, that’s all you can do. Every day, give it everything you’ve got and whatever comes out of that I’ll be happy with.”
As McKoy embarks on the end of his career with the Bisons, he’ll be taking in every last moment and cherishing it.
“I just want to live in the moment,” McKoy says. “Have fun with it, lay everything out on the line and try and enjoy it.”
McKoy hopes to continue his playing days into the CFL and is ready for whatever comes at him.
“I hope he gets a chance” Dobie says. “His football IQ is unquestionably CFL caliber, and so is his athleticism. He makes the absolute most of what he’s been given, and he’s done all the right things to make it happen. So, I hope he gets a shot, I really do.”
Whether his play transfers to the CFL gridiron or not, Jayden McKoy has become one of the most influential players in Bisons program history. His play, leadership, and dedication to his academics has set a standard that the younger class must abide by and will continue to follow well after McKoy hangs up the cleats.
Nicholas is third-year student in the Radio & Television Arts: Sport Media program at Ryerson University. He has written for ebonybird.com, covering the Baltimore Ravens for Fansided and Raptors HQ, covering Canada’s NBA team for SB Nation. Sports has been the integral piece in Nicholas’ life and has opened many doors for him throughout the years. He has been taught many practical character traits through the love, passion, and competitiveness of sports, but none more important than teamwork and respect.