Alijah McGhee, a senior linebacker at Minnesota State University, Mankato, made his presence known during the MSU Football team’s 2022 season opener against the Bemidji State University Beavers.
McGhee returned a fumble 70 yards for a touchdown and returned an interception 45 yards for another one to put the Mavericks up 30-13 at halftime. Those heroics garnered McGhee national attention, including mentions in online publications such as NFLdraftDiamonds.com.
The Mavericks had a close game of 37-34 and put themselves on the board at 1-0 for their first conference game and currently stand at 2-1. Learning new tricks, McGhee also plays as nickelback this year.
“With this position, you are a part of the plays more. I like that aspect and also adapting to new positions,” McGhee said.
One of his proudest accomplishments yet in his career is the national coverage he was seen for in his efforts at the Bemidji game.
“Receiving recognition for the Bemidji game was an honor. That really meant a lot to me and the team,” McGhee said.
In hopes of making it further than last season, McGhee expects the Mavericks to go far.
“One thing we want is to make it to the playoffs this year in November. Since this is my last year it’s all or nothing and I’m giving it my all,” McGhee said.
It took the Georgia native some time to warm up to his new home and see his team in action for the first time during the 2021 season.
“So I am from the south, and a lot of the guys here are from the north and midwest, so just getting used to the cold weather and the people up here is something new for me,” McGhee said.
He has one pre-game ritual he does before each game.
“I pray in the end zone to God before every game,” McGhee said.
This year he also switched his jersey number.
“Last year I was number 11 and this year I am 7. I switched because my little brother back home is actually number 7 on his team, too, so it is a tribute to him and I feel close to him when I wear the number.”
As the homecoming game approaches McGhee expects the Mavericks to take home another homecoming game win.
“If we win this year’s homecoming game it will be the 11th win in a row,” McGhee said.
If that is the case and the Mavericks bring home another win, it will tie MSU’s record for consecutive homecoming wins.
Header Photo: Alijah McGhee, a senior linebacker at Minnesota State University, Mankato was recognized for his performance in the season opener against the Bemidji State Beavers. (Kaleb Betwos/The Reporter)
Write to Julia Barton at Julia.Barton@mnsu.edu