The advent of the early signing period was beneficial for both players and schools. It allowed prospects to move past the recruiting pressure. It allowed programs to lock in recruits to national letters of intent and avoid babysitting pledges throughout January. But Bru McCoy’s decision to transfer from USC and enter the transfer portal after just one week of school changes the dynamics.
Let’s go backwards.
McCoy was a five-star recruit from Mater Dei in California. The 6-2, 205-pound wide receiver and outside linebacker is the No. 1-rated athlete in the 2019 cycle and chose USC over Texas at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 5. He chose to stay close to home and join new Trojans offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury. But between the time that McCoy signed in December and then started classes at USC, the former Texas Tech head coach jumped ship to the NFL. Now Kingsbury is the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and McCoy is is looking for a school again.
Texas, which signed three prospects from California in December, always was in a good position with McCoy. He took his official visit to Texas in September and was on hand to watch the Longhorns beat USC. It was a razor-thin decision at the end, however, and the addition of Kingsbury to the USC staff helped the Trojans sway him to sign.
Now, however, McCoy is free to talk to schools and the Longhorns are the clear favorites to land him. The biggest question mark is whether he can get on the field in 2019. He’ll be treated as a normal transfer since he already has signed a national letter of intent, meaning he’d be forced to sit out a year if he transfers to Texas unless the NCAA grants him a waiver.
McCoy is the first public tragedy of the early signing period. He chose a school based on information that was no longer true by the time he stepped on campus, yet he’s locked in for a year unless he’s given special attention. The NCAA doesn’t want this to become a trend. It should also look out for the players and their best interest. Either way, this is a real-time case study in how recruiting plays out moving forward.
The early signing period essentially is the new national signing day. Texas signed 22 of its 23 commitments in December. There is only one member of the Fabulous 55 who remains uncommitted. The fireworks on national signing day in February no longer exist, but could McCoy’s tale become a cautionary story that disrupts the trend of players signing early? Will more elite prospects wait until February to ensure the coaching staff at a school is intact?
If McCoy ends up at Texas, the Longhorns’ 2019 class improves dramatically even if he can’t play until 2020. McCoy was told during the recruiting process that he can replace Collin Johnson as the main force on the outside, as well as play some outside linebacker in third-down situations. With Johnson coming back, Texas would essentially ensure a five-star replacement for an NFL pick heading into the 2020 season. If McCoy gets the waiver and can play immediately, even better.
Texas’ 2019 class would propel to third-best in the nation if McCoy transfers to Texas, jumping ahead of Oklahoma and Texas A&M. It would be the second straight top-three class for Texas.
This process is likely to move fast with McCoy hoping to enroll in school this semester. A source close to McCoy’s recruitment indicated that he’s expected to be in Austin next week, likely starting on Tuesday. With his name in the portal, it almost seems to be a matter of if, not when, McCoy becomes a Longhorn. The question will be when he can officially play, and that likely takes time through the NCAA.