This isn’t how Bru McCoy envisioned everything going. He was a five-star wide receiver prospect, the No. 9 overall player in the 2019 recruiting cycle, the captain of his high school football team who made good grades and had offers from every elite football program in the country. Now, he’s become the craziest story of this college football offseason.
McCoy's story is the only one of its kind: a five-star recruit who has entered the NCAA transfer portal twice in six months, enrolling at USC in January only to leave for Texas 17 days later, then changing his mind again after spring practice. Though we’re not there yet, McCoy’s case may become an interesting conundrum for the NCAA when he submits a waiver. Depending on the end result—whether or not he’ll be eligible to play this fall as a true freshman—his recruiting journey serves as a warning and a lesson for other indecisive players.
Initially, McCoy was a huge get for USC, a program coming off a 5–7 record in 2018 under a coach in Clay Helton with uncertain job security. McCoy committed in December and enrolled in January. At the time, Kliff Kingsbury was set to be his offensive coordinator. An added bonus? He’d be playing ball 25 miles away from his family in Palos Verdes, Calif. and with his best friend and former Mater Dei High School teammate, USC quarterback JT Daniels. On paper, the Trojans were a natural fit.
Then Kingsbury left for the Arizona Cardinals and McCoy was having second thoughts. Less than three weeks on campus, he entered the transfer portal and landed in Texas. Tom Herman couldn’t have been more thrilled, needing a player just like the talented 6’2”, 205-pound McCoy to replace former wideout Lil'Jordan Humphrey. McCoy participated in spring ball in Austin and was impressive. He’s big, strong and physical, and recruiting analysts note he’s the kind of player that makes tough catches look easy. But something didn’t feel right.
Reports surfaced last week that McCoy was interested in transferring—again—back to USC. There have been several reports that once McCoy informed Texas he was heading home, the Longhorns rallied a contingent comprised of Herman, receivers coach Drew Mehringer (who recruited McCoy), quarterback Sam Ehlinger and director of player development Kevin Washington and sent them to Los Angeles to meet with McCoy and convince him to come back to Austin. It didn’t work.
“The reality is, you’ve gotta do what you gotta do,” says McCoy’s high school coach Bruce Rollinson. “Everybody is going to have an opinion. Be ready for the blowback. The only way it’s going away now is, perform at a high level for USC and everybody forgets about it.”
So, when will McCoy get on the field? Once he’s settled, expectedly back at USC, he’ll need the NCAA to grant him a waiver in order to play as a true freshman. The NCAA has been generous in that department recently, but don’t count on them approving one for “homesickness,” the widely reported reason behind McCoy’s flip-flop.
This isn’t what the NCAA had in mind when it created the transfer portal. It’s a valuable tool because it gives student-athletes power over their careers as the database allows players to freely talk to other programs without first getting permission from their current coach. McCoy’s case is unique in that he hasn’t even played a college football game, but already enrolled in two Power 5 programs.
There have been some other interesting transfer portal stories this offseason, from Tate Martell to Justin Fields to Austin Kendall, each of whom is eligible to play in 2019. They’ve also all served as very public learning experiences for all parties involved from the individual player to the school to the NCAA. McCoy’s—though maybe more unconventional—is just the next case study.