Pitt sophomore tailback LeSean McCoy said he plans to “definitely” return for his junior season next fall, dismissing talk that he will declare early for the NFL Draft.
“Everybody keeps trying to push that, my last game at Heinz Field,” McCoy said this afternoon of Friday’s 101st Backyard Brawl against West Virginia. “I’m not going anywhere. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve got to prove. I don’t think I did enough here at this university. There’s a lot left to achieve here.”
McCoy is eligible to declare hardship for the NFL Draft next spring because he spent a year at Milford Academy, a prep school in New Berlin, N.Y., and is three years removed from the graduation of his class at Harrisburg’s Bishop McDevitt High School.
McCoy has rushed for 1,125 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, and ranks second among active NCAA rushers at 111.5 yards per game. He is seventh among career rushers in Pitt history with 2,453 yards. Yet McCoy insisted that he’s not ready to make the jump to pro football, although he will listen to advice from Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, a former NFL head coach.
“That’s something I want to squash and get it over with,” McCoy said. “I don’t like talking about it or anything. I’m kind of getting fed up with it. I don’t really look at it like that.
“When you look at the pros, you’ve got to look at guys like Ray Lewis and (Brian) Urlacher. That’s what they do. That’s their job. When you come out in college, you just play ball and have fun. That’s their job. There’s a lot I have to do on my end to get better. Coach Wannstedt will let me know when it’s time. And I feel myself that I’m not ready yet.”
McCoy believes Pitt is poised for a big season next year, and he wants to help the Panthers win a Big East championship and claim the conference’s automatic BCS bowl berth. Pitt’s chances to do so this season ended Saturday night in a 28-21 loss at Cincinnati.
“We’re going to be loaded next year,” McCoy said. “Some of these guys, this is their first year playing with this year. Next year, we’re going to be a good team. I’m kind of anxious to see where they’re going to rank us next year, at the beginning of the season.”
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound McCoy also added that he wants to become bigger and stronger before moving on to the NFL, and said he would like to attempt to accomplish some individual achievements like reaching All-America status and winning the Heisman Trophy.
“That would be cool,” McCoy said. “When you’re younger, you talk about those things and, playing video games, you can see yourself one day winning this award, but definitely a BCS game and Big East championship.
“You talk to a lot of guys who had a chance to go to the pros and came back (to college), a lot of their reasons are how good their team will be the next year. I look at the team next year and we’ll be stacked. All I do is go to school and practice and hang out with my friends. Most of my friends are on this team. This is fun. That’s the real world, once you get into the league.”