Getting to the NFL isn’t easy, even for a freakishly talented athlete like running back
A star running back at Harrisburg, Pa.'s Bishop McDevitt High School, McCoy was considered one of the top running back prospects in this country when an ankle injury his senior year threatened to derail it all. But McCoy overcame the obstacles and is now enjoying success as the Eagles’ most dangerous weapon.
Three games into his senior season of high school, McCoy had compiled 859 yards and 10 touchdowns, and was on pace to break the state rushing record. But in a moment, it all came crashing down. McCoy suffered a compound ankle fracture in the fourth game of the season and missed the entire year.
"I felt like I was on top of the world and then at the next very moment I lost it all," McCoy told ESPN’s Lisa Salters on the network’s E:60 program, which aired Tuesday.
This could have very easily been the end of his playing career. But McCoy was determined to make it back from injury better than ever. His goals were lofty – make it to college, then the NFL.
"I just told myself, ‘I’m going to be this dude I’m supposed to be,’" McCoy said. "’I’m going to be the man again.’"
After a year of prep school at Milford Academy in New York, McCoy returned to his native Pennsylvania to play at Pittsburgh. McCoy was looking for more than just a chance to play – he was determined to redeem himself. Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt gave him that chance.
"He told me that he would give me an opportunity to play as a freshman," McCoy said. "He told me that I’d get an opportunity to regain my name back."
Not only did McCoy regain his place as one of the best backs in the country, he did so in electrifying fashion. In two years at Pitt, McCoy rushed for 2,816 yards and 35 touchdowns. He also became only the second Pitt running back to rush for consecutive 1,000 yard seasons since Tony Dorsett.
The Eagles liked McCoy’s play and selected the running back with the 53rd pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. McCoy spent a year playing sporadically while learning from veteran Brian Westbrook. After Westbrook’s release, McCoy was named the starter for the 2010 season.
But that September, as the regular season was getting underway, McCoy faced some of the most painful news of his life. His grandmother, Mary Ann Branch, had died.
"My grandmother, she was the best," McCoy said. "If I had a bad day she seems to always make it joyful and happy. Our relationship was amazing. I could talk to her about anything, anything. She never held back whatever it is, an honest answer, things like that.
"I’m crying as I’m going on the field thinking about it, like I’m going do everything for her, you know what I’m saying, like I’m going shine for her."
And shine he has. Since becoming the Eagles’ starter in 2010, McCoy has rushed for 3,012 yards and 26 touchdowns. Last season, he broke the franchise records for most rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns in a season while earning All-Pro honors. In total, he has 4,067 scrimmage yards and 34 total touchdowns. This is thanks to his elusive style of play and, of course, his trademark confidence. It’s that same confidence that has helped McCoy overcome challenges both on and off the field.
"I feel like all around you can’t find a back that will do everything I will do: catch, run, block, screens, long runs, short runs, I want to do it all," McCoy said. "I think the best thing is I play with is confidence. I think swagger is confidence. When I play with that swagger I feel like nobody can stop me. The swag is back. And it isn’t going anywhere."
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