The University of Maryland will wear a No. 79 helmet sticker, among other tributes, during the 2018-2019 football season to honor Jordan McNair, who died June 13 after suffering from heatstroke and collapsing at a May 29 workout.
Interim head coach Matt Canada was also in attendance and briefly spoke before Jordan and McKennie.
In addition to the helmet sticker, no Maryland football player will wear the No. 79 through McNair’s senior season. The team will hold a moment of silence when they open the season against Texas at FedEx Field, as well as before their first game in College Park against Temple on Sept. 15.
Every year, one Maryland football student-athlete will receive a scholarship in McNair’s name, and the offensive line room in Cole will be named after McNair. His locker in the Gosset Football Teamhouse will also be encased in glass and moved to Cole.
“This season, Jordan’s spirit will be living within each and every one of us,” McKennie said. “Every play we make, every snap we take, will be in Jordan’s honor.”
This was the first time the university made players available to speak on the situation surrounding the death of their teammate since the program’s Big Ten Media Day.
Since then, the program has been surrounded in controversy. Two lengthy ESPN articles were published, one reporting on conflicting statements regarding the handling of McNair’s condition at the May 29 workout, and the other describing a “toxic culture” under head coach DJ Durkin. Since then, Durkin has been placed on administrative leave, strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigned, and two other staffers have been placed on leave.
An external review being conducted by Rod Walters into the practices and procedures by the medical and training staff is expected to conclude by Sept. 15.
At a press conference last week, Maryland president Wallace Loh announced that a second external review into the culture of the football program will be launched by a four-person committee. On Friday, the Board of Regents met in a closed-session meeting and unanimously voted to take control of the commission in charge of the investigation.
There remains a high level of uncertainty with the program, with many believing that Durkin, Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans could be on their way out. However, the players wanted to redirect the conversation to their fallen teammate this morning.
“The moment that we stop saying his name, the moment that we begin to forget, his legacy begins to fade,” McKennie said. “We plan to have his legacy live on forever. We plan to never forget.”