That’s when Kevin McLee Sr., the running back at Georgia from 1975-77, was watching Kevin McLee Jr., a linebacker at West Virginia, play in a victory over South Florida. Late in the game, the television announcers mentioned the Mountaineers were headed to the Sugar Bowl to play the Bulldogs.
“He called me that night,” said McLee Jr., who goes by the nickname Boo. “He told me about how he played in the Sugar Bowl against Pitt and Tony Dorsett.”
The Bulldogs were whipped 27-3 by the top-ranked Panthers that day in 1977 as Dorsett rushed for 202 yards, but Kevin McLee also saw his share of good times at Georgia.
He finished his career with 2,581 yards, including the 1,058 he had in the 1976 season leading up to that Sugar Bowl. He was inducted into the Georgia-Florida game hall of fame earlier this year thanks to his 198 rushing yards in the 1976 game against the Gators.
“I never really saw him on film or anything, but from what everybody says, he was a great player,” said Boo McLee, a junior.
Now Boo is carrying on the family tradition with the Mountaineers. Kevin McLee’s brother Billy and cousin Reggie also played at West Virginia. Boo McLee, so named by his grandmother because he was such a fan of peek-a-boo as a baby, is tied for his team’s lead in tackles this year with 74. He also has six tackles-for-loss and an interception.
“We thought Boo could have a breakout year, and he’s had a good year, but I think still think there’s another level Boo can go to,” West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said.
The No. 8 Bulldogs (10-2) will take on No. 11 West Virginia (10-1) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in the Georgia Dome.
“It’s a real nice matchup to me,” Kevin McLee said. “I don’t know who to pull for man. I’ll probably pull for West Virginia this time around. It’s going to be hard as hell. Right now, I’m sweating just thinking about it.”
Boo McLee said his dad promised him he would sit in the West Virginia section and cheer for the Mountaineers while wearing a Georgia hat.
“I’m going to have to get over (the hat) because I probably would do the same thing,” Boo McLee said.
Boo McLee, who mainly played running back in high school, was raised by his paternal grandparents in Uniontown, Pa. Kevin McLee has lived just outside Los Angeles for the last 20 years and currently works for Prudential Life Insurance. Boo spent some time with his father in California while growing up, Kevin said, but the bond of college football has strengthened their relationship.
“I talk to him a lot more than I used to,” Boo McLee said. “We’re getting closer now because he experienced a lot of the stuff I’m going through.”
Boo McLee’s mother, Elaine Murray, lived in Illinois but died two years ago.
“I’m very proud of my son, very proud of my son,” Kevin McLee said.
“We’ve always been close. (Football) has just made us a little closer.”
Boo McLee rushed for 1,637 yards and led Uniontown High in tackles his senior season but several schools backed away from him during the recruiting process due to borderline qualifying scores, his father said. Georgia sent recruiting letters but never offered a scholarship and never got an official visit, Boo McLee said.
West Virginia, though, was a constant admirer.
“We really liked the way his motor ran,” Rodriguez said. “He was full speed all the time. He’s the one guy on defense, you don’t have to say ‘Sic ‘em’ to. You have to say, ‘Whoa, back off a little’ in practice sometimes.”
The “sic ‘em” must come naturally.