Using the transfer portal this offseason, Josh Heupel tried to address specific needs surrounding Tennessee football based on key players they lost. The most highly touted transfer he secured was to address the departures of JaVonta Payton at wideout.
Bru McCoy transferred from the USC Trojans to the Vols. Although Payton and Velus Jones Jr. leave two openings at receiver, McCoy was brought in specifically to play wideout opposite Cedric Tillman, evidenced by his 6’3″ 220-pound frame.
As a five-star recruit back in 2019, McCoy comes with tons of hype, but he has only played one year since then and has transferred from two schools, USC and the Texas Longhorns. As a result, Brad Crawford of 247Sports labeled him a boom-or-bust transfer.
Honestly, the label is fair. McCoy’s only season of action came in 2020, and as a backup receiver, he showed tons of promise, catching 21 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. There is plenty of reason to believe he can be a superstar.
However, Tennessee football is his third Power Five school, and he did suffer a legal issue that kept him away in 2021. As a result, you have to raise questions about how ready McCoy will be to step into his new role and if he can avoid off-the-field issues.
Given the Vols’ depth at receiver, they could likely find somebody else to play that No. 2 wideout role, but it’s clear Heupel targeted McCoy for it. In fact, he also targeted McCoy to probably have a solid replacement for Tillman once he is gone after this year.
After all, McCoy does have three years of eligibility left, so he was brought on to fill a void this year and provide stability for the future. Taking that into account along with Heupel’s system, McCoy truly is a boom or bust player for Tennessee football.
Either McCoy will become a record-setting receiver in Heupel’s system, or he’ll be buried in the depth chart because of other issues. We know this because of what he showed he could do in 2020, the hype behind him and the size he brings to the table.
Now, there is competition at the role, as Ramel Keyton is still in the system, and Jalin Hyatt or Jimmy Calloway could potentially move to the outside. However, the expectation is for McCoy to occupy that role immediately.
Last year, Velus Jones Jr. emerged as a superstar who transferred to Tennessee football from USC. Chase McGrath and Caleb Tremblay both came from USC as well. McCoy will be looking to continue that tradition, but if his tenure is to be a success, his production should outdo all of theirs.