New surrounding Cedric Tillman appears more devastating than we initially thought. The go-to receiver for Tennessee football left in the first half of their win over the Akron Zips due to an ankle injury, and it seemed as if he was just being held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons.
However, WBIR reports that sources say he is “highly questionable” for Saturday’s matchup against the Florida Gators. Hendon Hooker’s favorite target who has already come through in the clutch this year when needed may not be able to go.
That just means somebody else will need to step up. Reports are that Ramel Keyton has been seeing the majority of reps for Tennessee football as the Vols’ No. 1 wideout this week. Jalin Hyatt is still the main slot guy, particularly with Jimmy Calloway suspended for the first half.
Still, this means it’s time for Bru McCoy to step up. The Vols fought all offseason for the USC Trojans transfer’s eligibility, and they got it six days before the opener. He was then listed as the No. 2 wideout opposite Tillman for the first three games.
McCoy was flagged for two ticky tack pass interference calls Saturday against Akron, but he showed what he could do with an epic touchdown pass at the Pittsburgh Panthers. He already has eight catches for 109 yards and that score this year.
Now, more than ever, it’s time for McCoy to become a breakout star and validate everything that was said about him in the offseason. This is his chance to finally get the nation talking about him after a five-star rating in 2019 and three transfers.
Florida has struggled with wideouts all year. The bigger they are, the harder time the Gators have guarding them. Standing at 6’3″ 220 pounds, McCoy certainly provides that size for Tennessee football. He has to be Hendon Hooker’s go-to weapon all game.
Of course, if Tillman is out, his absence would go deeper than just being the No. 1 receiver out. What’s irreplaceable about Tillman is how often he catches meaningful touchdowns. Heck, his one touchdown reception this year was the game-winner for the Vols in overtime at Pitt.
At the same time, with McCoy’s only touchdown coming at Pitt, both have stepped up in the one crucial game the Vols have played so far this year. That suggests McCoy can come in and fill the void that may be left with Tillman out.
This is what it’s always been about in football, and this is why Josh Heupel went so hard for McCoy to play this year. The Vols needed more depth at receiver, and they got it. Kelsey Pope was promoted to receivers coach this offseason because of how he develops wideouts.
Don’t get me wrong, Hyatt will still likely be a factor, and there’s a great chance Keyton takes advantage of this opportunity. If Heupel was ever serious about McCoy’s potential this past offseason, though, this is the type of game he needs to step up.
Tillman will be gone next year anyway. Tennessee football needs to find another go-to target for the future, and although Florida is not the game to search for that, they may be forced to do that. Hooker, who will be gone next year too, is still a good decision maker and a dual-threat. He needs McCoy to become his new safety target, though.