Newly drafted Kansas City Chiefs running back Dexter McCluster may have received a lot of awards over his college career playing for Ole' Miss — school rushing records, All-SEC honors and offensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl his senior year.
But on Tuesday, McCluster received another accolade that hits close to home: the keys to Largo City Hall.
It's an honor the Largo native and former Largo High School star player says he will always remember.
"I'll cherish it until the day I die," McCluster said.
The keys, or rather, a decorative plaque with a beefy, ornate key affixed to it, was presented to McCluster by Mayor Patricia Gerard, with a full house watching from the City Commission chamber.
The usually polite and quiet room was filled with raucous applause when the key was handed over.
As the highly rated NFL rookie tried to leave, he was stopped by a dozen people, from residents to city employees, seeking handshakes and offering best wishes.
Largo economic development manager Teresa Brydon greeted McCluster on his exit. "God bless! We're so proud of you," she gushed.
Other awards were handed out earlier in the meeting to Largo employees for outstanding service in the quarter — one of them, Louis Coticchio, an equipment operator in the environmental services department, lingered in the lobby for a moment of McCluster's time.
He got a handshake and a smile.
"I used to watch him play in college. To meet him was pretty cool," Coticchio said.
McCluster was in town after returning from the Chiefs mini camp and offering some tips to local players at one of Largo's youth football outreach clinics.
"He's our own hometown hero," said Jonathan Evans, assistant to the city manager.
Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or firstname.lastname@example.org.