A week after the Brumors started to emerge publicly that the nation’s No. 1 athlete in the 2019 class, Bru McCoy, was considering leaving the USC Trojans, with the Texas Longhorns as the landing spot, the buzz from the unusual move has barely died down.
Last Thursday, McCoy officially entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal before signing a financial aid agreement with the Longhorns the next day and arriving in Austin on Sunday. The 6’2, 205-pounder is now enrolled in classes and going through offseason workouts with his new teammates, all less than a month after McCoy publicly committed to the Trojans at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
So what does McCoy bring to Texas? Beyond becoming the highest-ranked player to choose burnt orange and white since running back Johnathan Gray in the 2012 class, McCoy will bring elite athleticism to the Longhorns wide receivers corps and could help continue generating momentum on the recruiting trail, especially in California and with other top prospects.
The athletic profile for McCoy is impressive — he’ll gain weight under strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight and likely play around 215 pounds this fall if he can receive immediate eligibility. If he’s not eligible, McCoy will spend more time in the weight room this fall.
Hardly a raw athlete in that regard, McCoy showed up to campus last weekend as a relatively physically mature prospect, though not as developed as fellow early enrollee wide receiver Jordan Whittington.
In San Antonio, McCoy measured at just under 6’2 and 205 pounds, so both of those numbers are accurate. One aspect of McCoy that stands out is his hand size — he has 10-inch hands, which would have ranked among the largest of all wide receivers at the 2018 NFL Combine.
From an athletic standpoint, McCoy ran a 4.62 40-yard dash last March at a regional camp for The Opening, with a 4.22 shuttle, a 37.9-inch vertical leap, and a 45-foot power throw that combined to put him within tenths of a point from having the highest SPARQ rating among all athletes tested at those camps.
Though McCoy is ranked as an athlete because of his high-level upside as an edge rusher on defense, he’ll play wide receiver for the Longhorns.
The start of McCoy’s ultimate highlights demonstrates the value of those large hands — he’s able to reach out and make two one-handed catches, the first one is traffic between the cornerback and the safety. So his hands aren’t just big, they legitimately enable McCoy to come down with catches that would be difficult if not impossible for almost any other wide receiver.
After the catch, McCoy can also show the physicality that makes him such a terror coming off the edge, as he’s willing and able to use a stiff arm to punish smaller defenders. His agility makes him a dangerous player in space, as he can change direction and accelerate in short areas much better than most players of his size. As McCoy continues to gain strength, his ability to run through arm tackles will only improve.
And though the 4.62 40-yard dash doesn’t jump off the page, it is a strong number for a player of his size and enables him to serve as an explosive big-play threat — McCoy doesn’t project as just a possession receiver. Not in the least.
As a route-runner, he shows the ability to hit defenders with double moves to create separation. With the fluidity he shows on defense, particularly in his hips, there’s every reason to believe that McCoy can grow in the necessary areas to maximize his elite physical ability. Likewise, his burst often jumps off the screen in the most significant way when he explodes off the edge as a pass rusher.
Because of his fluidity, he can adjust to the football in the air. His vertical makes him a legitimate red-zone threat, though he doesn’t have the pure height of the top two Texas receivers from 2018, Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey.
In the running game, McCoy again flashes elements of his defensive mentality, clearly showing a willingness and even pride in dominating overmatched opponents with his effort and toughness.
Eventually, McCoy projects as an X receiver in the Longhorns offense, but with the return of Johnson for one more season, McCoy will likely receive reps at other positions, including in the slot. The cross-training, assuming it happens, would help McCoy learn the nuances of how to get the right releases at the line of scrimmage at the X position and how to read coverages and create leverage in the slot.
Since Mater Dei moved him around the field to create favorable match ups, that shouldn’t be a major challenge for McCoy.
As one of the highest-rated players recruited to play wide receiver in the modern recruiting era, the expectations are extremely high for McCoy, but his combination of athleticism, physicality, and football intelligence give him a low bust rate — if he stays healthy, he should be a really good player for the Longhorns.
In recruiting, perception is often reality — programs can rise and fall in cachet and perceived ability to compete at the highest levels. For a school like Texas that is showing signs of emerging from a massive downturn, landing a top-10 national prospect like McCoy could be huge, especially since he played his high school football in Los Angeles for a USC pipeline school.
With the additions of McCoy, linebacker De’Gabriel Floyd, and safety Chris Adimora, Texas is demonstrating that it can be a destination school for California prospects.
In an extremely general sense, recruits typically fit into one of two categories — prospects who are interested in following in the proven footsteps of others or staying close to home and those who are willing to go against the grain. In leaving Austin to play football at Stanford, wide receiver Elijah Higgins fit into the latter category. The Texodus of the 2017 class featured a lot of high-level recruits with similar perspectives.
Floyd and Adimora decided to blaze their own trails, though Floyd’s connections to Austin certainly helped, while McCoy needed the experience of USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury leaving for the NFL and seeing the fractures of the Trojans program from the inside before he was ready to get out of his comfort zone.
All three of those players, along with other out-of-state prospects like Arizona products Brayden Liebrock and Jake Smith, will make it easier for other recruits from those states to see themselves at Texas. Those prospects with more conventional sensibilities can now view the Longhorns program in a different light, allowing the coaching staff to secure more visits and have more advocates from those places on campus.
For prospects who want to play with other top players and face top competition in practice, landing recruits like McCoy continues to position Texas to close the talent gap with the top programs in the country.
In the feedback loop of college football recruiting, those are major positive signs for the Horns that could help head coach Tom Herman and his staff compete for top 2020 California products like linebacker Justin Flowe and wide receiver Johnny Wilson, who just named Texas in his top five.