Tennessee football: Bru McCoy made eligible, but it won’t make much difference

Tennessee's Bru McCoy (15)during the first day of Tennessee football practice at Anderson Training Facility in Knoxville, Tenn. on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.Kns Tennessee Football Practice
Tennessee's Bru McCoy (15)during the first day of Tennessee football practice at Anderson Training Facility in Knoxville, Tenn. on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.Kns Tennessee Football Practice /

Feel free to celebrate. Six days before Tennessee football opens the season against the Ball State Cardinals, the Vols learned they will now have another target at wideout. It’s weird to see these type of things breaking in their favor for once.

According to multiple reports, initially from VolQuest, USC Trojans transfer wide receiver Bru McCoy has been granted immediately eligibility by the NCAA. Once a five-star in 2019, McCoy stands at 6’3″ 220 pounds, and expectations for for him to immediately impact UT at wideout.

Don’t count on it. Tennessee football fans putting so much emphasis on McCoy being able to play really exposed the lack of confidence they have in their other receivers. Honestly, if you look at the recruiting trail and how last year went, that makes no sense.

Given his size, McCoy will play wideout. Well, obviously, Cedric Tillman is the Vols’ go-to wideout this year. He is coming off a 1,000-yard receiving season with 12 touchdowns. There’s no way McCoy takes those targets away from him.

Josh Heupel and Alex Golesh usually go to their slot guy after their go-to wideout. Velus Jones Jr. was second on the team in receiving last year. All signs point to Jalin Hyatt filling that role, as he’s been a star for Rocky Top throughout the offseason.

That leaves just the other wideout spot in terms of starters for McCoy to fill. Last year, JaVonta Payton filled that role. He was the most impactful player per touch, averaging a touchdown every three catches and 23 yards every catch, but he just had 18 catches for 413 yards and six touchdowns, so his targets were limited.

By the way, that assumes McCoy does fill the void Payton left. Ramel Keyton, who has been with Tennessee football since 2019 and was once a four-star recruit himself, stands at 6’3″ 195 pounds. He was reportedly practicing more with the first-team anyway.

Beyond Keyton, Walker Merrill has the profile of a receiver more similar to Payton, as he stands at 6’1″ 195 pounds. If Heupel wants a similar rotation to what they had last year, then Merrill could end up stepping into that role.

To be fair, the one thing working against Merrill may be new receivers coach Kelsey Pope. Last year, in an off-field role, Pope worked more with wideouts specifically and developed Tillman, so he may prefer guys like Keyton or McCoy.

Even if it is the case that McCoy is the guy, though, Golesh also mentioned that he wants to go deeper at receiver this year, suggesting he would like to be able to rotate in and out eight guys. How could McCoy ever make that big of an impact if that’s the case?

Look, McCoy likely has as a ton of potential, but he was a member of the 2019 recruiting class and has only played college football for one year. That year was 2020, and he had just 21 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns.

Those aren’t bad numbers in a shortened season for a guy who wasn’t a starter, and he was a five-star for a reason, but you also can’t ignore that he transferred to USC from the Texas Longhorns and that he was suspended last year. There are some questions.

Next. 10 Vols who should have breakout seasons in 2022. dark

For McCoy’s sake, receiving eligibility was the right move. However, there are no signs that it’ll make that big of an impact for Tennessee football this year. Honestly, McCoy’s impact was more for 2023, and he would have been eligible then no matter what.