LOWVILLE Macky MacPherson appreciates the importance of a strong father figure in a kids life.
So the recently graduated Syracuse University football player took a break from his NFL draft training to be the guest speaker at Tuesday nights Lowville Elks Lodge #1605 father-son banquet.
I jumped at the opportunity because I think its a great thing to talk about the father-son relationship and how it can help you become a better person, MacPherson said.
The 22-year-old MacPherson said his father wasnt an active part of his childhood, so much so that he took on his mother Maureens last name.
MacPherson, who grew up in Syracuse and went to Christian Brothers Academy, said the biggest male influence of his childhood was his grandfather, legendary SU football coach Dick MacPherson.
In a speech that lasted about 20 minutes, MacPherson credited his grandfathers guidance for his own successful SU football career, which ended with his third bowl victory in four years last December.
MacPherson started every game at center since the start of his sophomore year and was elected a team captain for the 2013 season.
He was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference second team this past season and was an All-Big East selection his junior year.
I am very lucky to have such a strong-willed mother and a support group of extended family members, especially my grandfather, who helped to fill that void, MacPherson said. My grandfather was a huge influence in my life.
MacPherson shared memories of him and his brother, Cameron, attending SU football practices with their grandfather after he retired.
He also stressed the importance of how seemingly small things that a father figure might ask a kid to do can make a big impact.
While at a SU football practice as a fourth-grader, MacPherson said his grandfather asked one of the teams centers to teach his grandsons how to long snap.
I was not too excited to learn how to long snap, but if you think I wasnt excited, you should have seen the face of the college kid that was asked to teach a fourth-grader how to long snap, MacPherson said. But we practiced it over and over.
MacPherson said that as an undersized center coming out of high school, his long-snapping skills helped attract college coaches. That same attribute is what could get him to the National Football League.
My grandfather always told me to try your hardest at everything because you never know what small thing could change your whole life. That didnt just apply to sports, MacPherson said.
MacPherson also fielded questions from the crowd, mostly related to his playing experience and his favorite memories of playing for the Orange. He also signed autographs.
Kevin Kent, the father-son banquet chairman, said the dinner is an annual event and has featured a Syracuse coach or athlete as guest speaker for the past 16 years.
MacPherson, listed at 6-foot-1 and 305 pounds, is ranked by nfldraftscouts.com as the No. 16 center in a class of 97.
He is projected to go undrafted in April but is hoping to change that with a strong performance at the SU pro day on March 26.