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Heupel breaks down new Tennessee receiver Bru McCoy

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 18 Pac-12 Championship Game - Oregon v USC Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tennessee ended up missing on high-profile receiver transfer Isaiah Neyor from Wyoming, but they did land another big time player at the position via the portal. Bru McCoy, the former top prospect who famously couldn’t make his mind up between Texas and USC, is now in Knoxville and ready to start over.

The 6-3, 225 pounder was a former five-star prospect with options on both sides of the ball. He ultimately landed at wide receiver, but never made a big impact with the Trojans. Back in 2020, McCoy appeared in six games, catching 21 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Off the field issues kept McCoy from playing in 2021, and ultimately led to his exit.

McCoy now lands in Knoxville, where he’ll be looking to capture some of the magic of Josh Heupel’s offense. We saw what Cedric Tillman did in year one for Heupel, now McCoy is hoping to follow a similar path — and the door is open for playing time.

“Young man that we’re excited to have in our program,” Heupel said at SEC Media Days. “He’s handled himself with such poise and grace, great competitive nature since he’s come into our program. Been going about his work habits the right way, really consistent.”

Tennessee will be replacing Velus Jones Jr. and JaVonta Payton this year. That leaves Tillman and Jalin Hyatt, and the rest is sort of up for interpretation heading into fall camp. McCoy will get his first shot to prove himself on the field in August, looking to at least crack the rotation early on.

Heupel’s offense is a different beast though, and it may take a little time to adjust.

“Extremely gifted physically,” Heupel said. “Big, strong, ability to make competitive catches out there on the perimeter. His best football is still a long ways ahead of him — and I say that as a positive. Really excited about getting him on the grass here as we get going in training camp. You know, a guy that didn’t have spring ball, he’s just getting integrated into what we’re doing offensively. Like with some of the transfers we had a year ago on offense, there’s a growth process to understanding how we play. He’s got to soak those things up and be able to handle the tempo in particular.”

McCoy should have up to three years of eligibility left. Heupel also added that McCoy isn’t eligible to play for Tennessee just yet, following his Texas-USC transfer as a true freshman.

“There’s another hurdle that we’ve still got to clear for him to be completely eligible,” Heupel said last week. “Our administration and department are working on that. And we’ll find out when we find out.”

As we’ve seen before, the NCAA doesn’t get in a hurry with their eligibility rulings. The Cade Mays case went into the season and Tennessee didn’t get word on Aubrey Solomon until week one of 2019. So there’s a potential curveball to keep an eye on.

Tennessee is slated to start their 2022 season with a matchup against Ball State on September 1st.