"He's one of the most important young men on our team," USU head coach Gary Andersen said.
His story is a winding one. Brady is a former Cougar, but he ran track at BYU and didn't play football even though the Sky View grad and Cache Valley native was a first team all-state performer in high school.
Brady never could completely turn away from the call of the gridiron, though. After the 2009 season, Andersen ran out of defensive backs. Brady was one of his first calls.
"I just knew what kind of work ethic the young man had," Andersen said. "I knew that he was going to give his all whether it be during the season, or if it were spring ball or summer workouts. People like McKade Brady are the backbone of this program. He's a special young man."
Initially, Brady was promised nothing. He was a walk-on his first season, as Andersen ran out of scholarships.
However, it didn't take him long to work his way up the depth chart. Brady played in all 12 games in 2010, and carved out a niche in the rotation. Last year, he emerged as the full-time starter and was awarded a scholarship. His dream of playing Division I football accomplished, Brady returned to Provo last year for the first time since his track days, ready to make an impact.
He promptly got ejected.
His hit on Cody Hoffman in the first quarter was deemed launching by the officials, who tossed him. Replays revealed that he hit Hoffman on the shoulder pad, and there was no helmet-to-helmet contact. But it was too late.
"I received a lot of text messages from people sending the photo to me," Brady said. "I didn't feel that I should've been ejected. So I'm looking forward to this game. I hope we can make a few more plays down the stretch than we did last season. It's a rivalry game. I think we'll be ready."
Brady is so valuable because of his range as a defender. He's equally comfortable in coverage as he is coming up to the line of scrimmage and making a tackle. Those attributes have made Utah State's secondary as deep and versatile as any in Andersen's coaching tenure.
Brady is a defensive captain and is well respected by his peers. His road to college football and his talent have stood out this season. He is simply the leader of the 11th-best defense statistically in the nation.
And now, he has a second chance at BYU.
McKade Brady file
2009 • Ran track at BYU, helped the Cougars to the Mountain West title
2010 • Transferred to Utah State, played in all 12 games
2011 • Started, was third on the team with 86 tackles
2012 • Started all five games. Is the USU defensive captain