The 90 Illini #19: James McCourt

Oct 19, 2020

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OK fine I was going to post this one last night but I waited until today because it's OCTOBER 19TH. One year ago today, James McCourt made sure he'd never have to buy a drink in Champaign ever again. Well, you know, after he graduates and it's no longer an NCAA violation to buy him a drink. And we might have to wait until December 2021 to buy him that drink because he might use the Covid rule and stick around for the game in Ireland next year. You know, if that's even played in Ireland.

19. James McCourt

Uniform number: 17
Year in school: Senior (1 year to play 1; with the Covid rule, technically 2 to play 2)
Height: 6'-1" -- Weight: 215 lbs.
Hometown: Parkland, Florida, but was born and raised in Ireland
High School: St. Thomas Aquinas HS
Best offers: Army, Air Force
Tom Cruise rating:

2019 statistics: 13-19 field goals, 42-43 on extra points (you just thought about the MSU game).


McCourt is one of three Cubit recruits left: he committed to Bill Cubit in December of 2015. Cubit was then fired in early March, Lovie was hired, McCourt sat behind Chase McLaughlin for three seasons, and then he beat out Caleb Griffin in the kicking competition during training camp last summer to become the starting kicker. (The other two Cubit recruits remaining: Jake Hansen, who is still here because he tore his ACL and missed the 2017 season, taking a redshirt year, and Doug Kramer who, technically, was just a grayshirt for Cubit agreeing to a future 2017 scholarship but was put on scholarship immediately in 2016 by Lovie.

McCourt was also born in Ireland and lived there until he was nine when his dad took a job in Florida. When I wrote my signing day breakdown in 2016, dubbing the class The Misfits and talking about the future movie where there's a kicker from Ireland, a 6'-7" Boston mobster offensive lineman named Eddy the Fish, a 5'-6" receiver named MJ, a 5'-9" defensive tackle who is the son of an NFL tight end, and a bunch of other unknowns who would eventually, at the end of the movie, win the city championship, I was really excited about this kicker from Ireland. I pictured him chain smoking at practice and asking for "a bag of tayto" from the nutrition staff.

Alas, by moving at age nine, he lost his accent by age 18. So now he's just that kicker who hit the biggest Illini field goal in decades.

Let's see - what else. OH - I ran into him at the Orange and Blue Golf Course this summer. He was on the first tee of the Blue course while I was on the first tee of the Orange. Watched him hit the driver... left handed? I asked him and yes, he golfs lefty and kicks righty. He said that he also (I might have these backwards) writes lefty but throws a football righty. My sister is ambidextrous, so ambidextrous people always fascinate me. I'd make her write her name in cursive right handed and then left handed as a party trick when my friends came over.

2020 Outlook

This will probably take four sentences. He's the kicker. He should have a big senior year. Mel Kiper has him as the #2 kicker for next year's draft. And he better not miss any more Michigan State-like extra points.

Also, don't buy him any drinks yet. And then, after he graduates, buy him every drink.

Comments on October 22, 2020 @ 08:44 PM

Fun fact: he may not be ambidextrous but actually cross-dominant. I only know this because I too, without kicking game winning field goals, do everything differently. The difference is what I do dominantly I can’t do equally with both sides (e.g. I kick lefty but can’t kick righty to save my life but I throw right and can’t throw lefty to save my life).

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