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Transfer Receiver ‘A Pleasant Surprise’ For Tennessee

Tennessee returns star receiver Cedric Tillman, but lost starting receivers JaVonta Payton and Velus Jones Jr. this offseason.

The Vols have plenty of in house candidates to replace the pair— Jalin Hyatt is poised to start at slot receiver — and a handful of freshmen, most notable Squirrel White, are turning heads.

There’s perhaps no one more intriguing in Tennessee’s receiver room than Southern Cal transfer Bru McCoy.

McCoy was a five-star recruit and top 10 prospect coming out of California powerhouse Mater Dei High School.

After signing with Texas and quickly transferring back home to USC, McCoy didn’t play as a freshman. McCoy totaled 236 yards and two touchdowns in USC’s five-game 2020 season and then didn’t play a season ago due to off the field issues.

The talent is clearly there, but McCoy has yet to fully show it on the field. Since arriving in Knoxville and beginning his first fall practice, McCoy has practiced well for the Vols.

“Bru has been a pleasant surprise,” receivers coach Kelsey Pope said. “He’s been really good. For a guy who hasn’t played in a season, he’s obviously had to build stamina back up. But when you just talk about a physical specimen— some things you can coach and some things you can’t. That guys got a lot of things you just can’t coach.”

On top of playing only five games since graduating from high school, McCoy is coming back from an offseason hip injury that slowed down his conditioning entering fall practice.

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McCoy has repped opposite of Cedric Tillman during routes on air during fall camp. However, McCoy is not near the top of the group in terms of rep order. Ramel Keyton leads the way followed by Walker Merrill. McCoy is near the bottom but instead of catching passes from walk ons Navy Shuler or Gaston Moore, Hendon Hooker jumps back to the top of the order to throw to McCoy.

The 6-foot-3, 220 pound receiver was limited in practice earlier this week and didn’t participate in Tuesday’s scrimmage before going back to full speed during Thursday’s practice.

“For him, it’s just honing in on the details,” Pope said of McCoy. “Getting them polished up, him really to become a technician. He’s a big athlete, he’s physical, he’s twitchy, he can run. For us, it’s just about getting his stamina up— getting him back in shape— and then polish up the little things with him.” 

Tennessee scrimmages for the second time in fall camp on Sunday. McCoy scrimmaging and having a big day would go a long way towards him playing a major factor in Tennessee’s offense early in the season.

The biggest question surrounding McCoy has nothing to do with what he does on the field, but whether he can get on the field. Tennessee is still awaiting word from the NCAA on whether McCoy will be eligible this season.

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