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With LDS church mission ahead, QB Tanner McKee creates intriguing recruiting scenario

While the quarterback recruiting dominoes for the Class of 2018 have been lined up and falling for well over a year, one of the nation's highest-ranked players has stood by, unaffected.

Tanner McKee, the nation's fourth-ranked pocket passer and the No. 50 recruit overall, is one of just four quarterbacks in the ESPN 300 who remains uncommitted, and he is not in a hurry to change that.

Last year, his first as the starter for Centennial High in Corona, California, McKee threw for 3,522 yards with 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions as he led the Huskies to an 11-2 record. They lost to perennial power St. John Bosco in the section playoffs but still finished the year ranked No. 8 nationally by MaxPreps.

He expects to take all five of his allotted official visits. The current plan is to visit Alabama (scheduled for when the Crimson Tide host LSU on Nov. 4), Stanford, Texas, Washington and BYU.

"I'm probably going to decide after the season," McKee said. "I don't really have a specific date."

It could seem like an unorthodox approach for a quarterback in this era, but it comes with a simple explanation: A couple of weeks after McKee graduates from high school, he will set out on his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For all intents and purposes, his football commitment will be one of the earliest from the Class of 2020 and, as a result, he will have a cloudier picture of what the potential road to playing time will look like, as compared to others who will sign this spring.

For some quarterbacks, that could be a concern, but McKee is unfazed.

"I feel like there's going to be athletes anywhere, so if you got to a good school, there's going to be multiple guys that could have the job too," he said. "So you're going to just have to compete wherever you go."

McKee's mission could take him anywhere around the world -- his father took his mission to New Zealand and his sister is currently on hers in Washington, D.C. –- and he will find out his destination a couple of months before he leaves. His football career will take a backseat to his missionary work during his time away, but McKee said he'll do what he can to come back as ready as possible to play.

"In the morning, you can get a lift in and once a week you can have P-day -– a preparation day -- where you can actually go throw a football," he said. "It's kind of like your free day."

He got a better sense of what the experience will be like for someone in his position from BYU starting quarterback Tanner Mangum, who went on his mission to Chile before joining the Cougars.

"He said you have to stay in shape the whole time," McKee said. "It's hard, obviously, because you're busy, but you're going to have to wake up really early. You're still going to come back out of shape. You're not going to be in as good of shape as when you left, but just come back ready to learn the offense."

It takes watching only a few minutes of McKee's highlights to understand why he is coveted by some of the best programs in the country. At 6-foot-6 with a strong, accurate arm, he would be a good fit in a pro-style system. But for the past two years, McKee has operated one of the most prolific spread offenses in the country at Centennial High.

"I feel like a pro-style would set you up for the NFL, but I've been running the spread for so long that I feel comfortable in the spread if I need to," he said. "I guess I would like to run a pro-style [in college] just so I could learn it and different types of offenses, but it's not a make-or-break factor."