Tennessee receiver Bru McCoy has completely changed the way he should be perceived by the college football world. That’s taken plenty of hard work.
It was easy to question if McCoy was a malcontent when he transferred from Southern California last year. After all, he had transferred three times after a brief move to Texas before a move back to USC. McCoy was also charged with domestic violence, which was dropped shortly after the seemingly baseless charge was made.
So in a year, McCoy was a transfer from Southern California with a questionable past. Now, he’s a bona-fide talent, a proven playmaker and, in just one calendar year, a true leader for the Vols.
“Since January, he’s been on our leadership council, he’s been very intentional in how he’s grown,” Heupel said. “It’s been fun to see him take those steps. He owns it. He likes being in that role, and he’s got a really positive effect on everybody around him.”
McCoy was forced to play more than he likely thought he would last season when receiver Cedric Tillman suffered an ankle injury in September. McCoy answered the bell. He caught 52 passes for 662 yards and four touchdowns despite the fact that Jalin Hyatt was having a monumental season at slot receiver and ended up being named the Biletnikoff Award winner, which annually goes to the best receiver in college football.
There have been whispers in NFL circles that McCoy might be Tennessee’s best overall football player given his size and speed. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver is tough to stop at the line of scrimmage and even tougher to keep from coming down with jump balls. However, the Vols will need more than him to contribute for UT’s offense to be at top gear this fall.
Tennessee can certainly lean on Ramel Keyton, who is dependable, and Squirrel White, who seems ready to have a breakout season after making a name for himself as a freshman last season. Then, there’s Oregon transfer Dont’e Thornton, who has the ability to be a special playmaker and the experience to be ready to play this season. After that, things get a bit more interesting. The Vols don’t have any proven backups if a receiver were to get hurt like Tillman did last season. However, the Vols do have two redshirt freshmen that Heupel believes have taken a major step during the offseason: Chas Nimrod and Kaleb Webb
“The three guys that have a bunch of time in our offense played really well, done a great job of being in-sync with the quarterback,” Heupel said, referring to Keyton, McCoy and White. Dont’e Thornton has continued to really grow, love what he’s done.
“The two younger guys inside of our building, Chas and Kaleb, they’ve taken great strides all offseason, but this training camp they were a different player than they were in spring ball too, in a positive way. Love what those guys are doing. That’s on the offensive side of the ball, it’s also on special teams.”