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Heupel explains why Bru McCoy is off to a fast start

Tennessee v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Just a few weeks back, we weren’t entirely sure Bru McCoy would even be on the field for Tennessee this year. Now, he’s already one of Hendon Hooker’s favorite targets. We heard the hype through the summer and fall periods, and through two games as a Volunteer, McCoy has delivered.

The 6-3, 225 pound receiver has immediately given Tennessee an option opposite of Cedric Tillman, while allowing Jalin Hyatt to do some early damage from the slot position. Despite limited time on field with his new offense, McCoy earned the start in his first game with Tennessee and made an immediate splash against Ball State.

He followed that up with a huge touchdown to help Tennessee come back in the first half against Pittsburgh. Going a little bit deeper, here’s a little play most have forgotten about. That’s what a 6-3, 225 pound frame can do on the perimeter for you.

“He cares,” Josh Heupel said of McCoy. “I think that’s the No. 1 thing. He’s in the building. From the moment he stepped here inside of Knoxville, he’s been in our building. He’s constantly working to get better and understanding who he is (as) a player, what we do offensively, how to play efficiently with our communication system, how to get lined up and attack defenses – all of that, I think, is a big part of it.”

McCoy, a former top prospect, famously struggled to make up his mind between Texas and USC coming out of high school. He ultimately ended up with the Trojans, but was forced to miss the 2021 season due to an off-field incident that has since been resolved. McCoy hit the portal once more, and appears to have found a home with Tennessee.

The opportunity was certainly obvious for Bru in Knoxville, with JaVonta Payton and Velus Jones Jr. moving on to the NFL. We knew Jalin Hyatt was one answer for Heupel, but McCoy quickly became the obvious second answer through camp.

“The competitiveness, the competitive drive that he has is a big part of why he spends that extra time in here,” Heupel said. “And when you see him on the football field and the way that he competes, he’s highly competitive, he’s strong, and obviously you can see Hendon trusts him, too, and we trust him as a staff.”

With seven catches for 100 yards and a score to this point, McCoy is averaging 14.3 yards per reception. You saw how much damage Cedric Tillman can do on Saturday against Pitt, and you also know teams are going to have to key in on him in SEC play. With McCoy quickly emerging and getting comfortable, that’s going to make this Tennessee attack that much more dangerous.