Since he was young LeSean McCoy has always thought big. His dreams of playing in the NFL led to big time production on the field since he was a high school player. The running back finished as the ninth all-time leading rusher in Pennsylvania state history with over 6,600 yards and 75 touchdowns. And the production hasn't stopped since.
After a year at prep school, McCoy burst onto the scene at Pitt where the back made an instant impact as the country's top freshman rusher averaging better than 110 yards per game. His numbers by season's end set a Big East freshman record for rushing yards (1,328), points (90) and rushing touchdowns (14).
Those also surpassed the freshman marks of former Pitt great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, who once said the following of McCoy.
"This is the first player who has come along who truly reminds me of me."
By the time his sophomore season was over McCoy had 36 touchdowns in 25 games to break the school, Big East and NCAA record for most touchdowns by a player as a freshman and sophomore besting the mark set by another Pitt alum, Larry Fitzgerald. He also surpassed the rushing totals of Dorsett (2,690) over his first two collegiate seasons with 2,816 yards on the ground.
What makes McCoy so successful is his burst of acceleration, whether he's turning the corner or hitting the hole. At 5'11" and 204 pounds, McCoy is not known as a power runner, but rather an elusive, cut on a dime back that often leaves defenders grabbing at air.
McCoy also offers versatility with a good pass catching skill set as he caught 65 passes in his two seasons with the Panthers.
"I can do lot of things as far as between the tackles, outside, I can catch the ball, so I can do a lot of other things for a running back," said McCoy. "You can use me in the screen
game, you never have to take me out of the game. There are things I can improve on, but for most part I can do anything."
He attributes his well-rounded game to Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt, who McCoy feels has prepared him well for the NFL game.
"He's been in pros, he knows the system," McCoy said. "We always had a pro style offense, we do a lot of the pro things, the way we meet when we had meetings, the discipline, the practice, the tempo. A lot of different things we did at Pitt we'll probably do in the pros."
Despite his impressive production, entering the draft as a sophomore (three years removed from high school) was still deemed a risk. But so is another year of taking hits with a heavy workload.
"This game, at our position, you're only allowed a certain amount of hits and that's it," he said. "You've got to make sure you take enough hits and get out and go to the pros and do something you've always wanted to do since you were a little boy."
Clocking a 4.5 40-time at his pro day along with 17 reps on the bench and a pedestrian 29-inch vertical didn't wow anyone, but McCoy plays faster than he times and is not the kind of back that bowls defenders over. McCoy skipped the combine workout due to a bout with the flu.
Some say his stock is slipping, but it's difficult to argue with the production. Add to that his versatile set of skills and McCoy is likely to be one of the top five backs to come off the board draft weekend.