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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Keith McGill takes the field during the University of Utah's Red-White Spring football game, Saturday April 20, 2013 in Salt Lake City.
Former Ute Keith McGill works to shake “raw” label in Oakland

Keith McGill is the rare 25-year-old NFL player who can shrug off the label "raw."

He has a legitimate excuse: He’s new to this.

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen told Raiders.com after last weekend’s minicamp that McGill has the size (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) and the speed (4.51 40-yard dash) to justify his selection with the 116th pick in the fourth round of the NFL draft. Eventually.

"There are some things that we have to work with him from a fundamental and a technique standpoint," Allen said. "But he has the skill set that will allow him, if he continues to work and do the things that we ask him to do, to be a good player."

McGill came to the U. in 2011 as a standout junior college safety at Cerritos College. He he tore his labrum in 2011, redshirted during 2012, and then Utah coaches switched him to corner in 2013.

So even after McGill slogged through the all-day meetings, installs and workouts, Allen’s frank assessment doesn’t injure his pride. He’s aware he has room to improve.

"I think anybody that played any position for one year would definitely be raw, so I’m just trying to listen to every coach and just try to understand exactly what they want from me," McGill told The Tribune by phone Tuesday.

McGill was thought likely to go earlier than the fourth round, but it was reported on draft day that off-the-field issues may have caused his stock to drop. In 2012 he faced DUI and theft by receiving stolen property charges, and he was later convicted on the DUI charge.

McGill told reporters after the draft that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie asked about those incidents and came to understand that McGill has matured in the two years since, and McGill said Tuesday that he’s not sure how much of a factor his 2012 troubles were for other NFL teams.

"It was a couple years back," he said. "If I was getting in trouble last year or a month or so, I thought it would have been brought up a little bit more. But it’s in the past. I think the coaches understood that, but the media likes to make stories out of stuff."

The No. 1 thing McGill will miss about Utah, he says, is the family atmosphere.

He still sees Utes Jake Murphy (an undrafted free agent tight end) and Karl Williams (UDFA fullback) and reports that they seem to be smiling a lot. He takes that to mean that they’re doing well.

He’s been told that the NFL is less of a brotherhood, "but I believe that the great teams do have that," he said.

"That’s one thing that I’ll miss from Utah but I’m pretty sure I’ll establish that here."

We solicited Twitter questions for McGill, and here are his answers to a couple.

"I honestly had no clue who was going to get me," said McGill, who was in discussions with a number of NFL teams.

"They haven’t been talking to me about playing safety," he said. "I’ve just been trying to play corner and trying to understand it. I’ve only been there for a little less than a week now, and that conversation could come up in the future. I don’t know. But if it comes up, I definitely want to learn that, too."

— Matthew Piper


Twitter: @matthew_piper

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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