Quarterback Colt McCoy signed with the Washington Redskins today as an unrestricted free agent, making him the last unrestricted free agent of note to sign that played college ball at Texas. McCoy faces a long road back to the role of a starting quarterback in the NFL, and has time working actively against him.
McCoy started more games at quarterback than any other player in the history of the school from 2006-2009. He completed more passes in his four seasons than any Texas quarterback ever. Only four Texas quarterbacks before him were taken higher in the NFL draft than Colt McCoy was, a list that includes hall of famer Bobby Layne as well as Vince Young. He certainly has his argument as the best Texas quarterback in school history.
Colt McCoy is from Hobbs, New Mexico, but spent his teenage years in Tuscola, TX before attending the University of Texas. McCoy spent a redshirt year in 2005 watching as Vince Young led Texas to the National Championship, before winning the job as to-be 20 year old in 2006. There’s no question that some of McCoy’s early success — he was Big 12 newcomer of the year in 2006 — should belong to his teammates. The Texas roster was talent-rich for McCoy’s four seasons in Austin. He was able to hand off to Jamaal Charles, throw to Limas Sweed and Jermichael Finley, and do so behind the blocking of Tony Hills, Justin Blalock, and Kasey Studdard. To say nothing of the Longhorn defense of the era.
McCoy’s best season as a pro or college player came in 2008 at the age of 22. The Longhorns went 13-1 that season, with a last second loss to Texas Tech as the season’s only blemish. McCoy’s 2008 season is one of the best passing seasons (perhaps the best) that a college quarterback has ever enjoyed. Thirteen wins is one thing, but McCoy completed 76.7 percent of his passes for an astounding 9.7 yards per attempt while throwing 34 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He did this just before the college offensive explosion that hit shortly after. He added 561 yards of rushing for good measure. This is pretty much Johnny Manziel’s best college season, but done in fewer passing attempts.
The Heisman trophy that year went to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, who also had an excellent season, but probably not quite the year McCoy had.
In 2009, it would have been impossible for McCoy to best his 2008 season, so he diversified his accomplishments: Texas enjoyed an undefeated regular season and won a berth in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. McCoy was named the Maxwell award winner for most outstanding college football player. In the final game, McCoy was knocked out with a shoulder injury in the first quarter, and watched Alabama defeat Texas from the sideline. The injury did not help his draft case much, and was the primary reason McCoy dropped to the third round.
He was taken by Cleveland to compete for the third quarterback job, a job he won easily. Despite not having a lot of support among the coaching staff, he rose to starter just six weeks into his pro career, and enjoyed a very nice 2010 season under Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. His 7.1 yards per attempt led all rookies that season (and would have been the best if you included the 2009 rookie class as well). But organizational changes in Cleveland meant that they would move to a west coast system under Mike Holmgren as team president and Pat Shurmur as head coach.
McCoy is mobile, but he has always been a pocket passer. He’s been known to make some plays outside the pocket (his touchdown pass on a vertical route off a bootleg against Cincinnati in Week 1 2011 was a beauty), but McCoy is much more of a Chad Pennington type than the Matt Hasselbeck type that Shurmur wanted him to be. Misued in 2011, he regressed and struggled, eventually being inactivated after suffering a bad hit to the head by James Harrison of the Steelers. McCoy and his father criticized the Browns for their obvious incompetence after the game, and damaged the relationship with Holmgren. Relegated to a no. 2 quarterback in 2012 because the Browns thought drafting Brandon Weeden in the first round was a good idea, McCoy was traded to San Francisco after the 2012 season.
His career will continue under Jay Gruden in Washington this year. But since it has been a while since Colt McCoy has been in the national conscience, it makes sense to take a step back and remember how good he was and has been when he has played. Perhaps no Longhorn quarterback has been better while at Texas.