The first thing that comes to mind for most Kansas State football fans when they think of Mike McCoy is the punishing touchdown run he pulled off against Charlotte last season.
McCoy, playing in his second college game, took a handoff at the 15-yard line and then flattened a perfectly positioned defender on his way to the end zone. The crowd at Snyder Family Stadium gasped and cheered as he delivered the highlight of an otherwise forgettable game.
He's aiming for more as his sophomore year approaches.
"I want to show people I can catch the ball, as well," McCoy said, "and that I’m not just a trucker. A lot of people talk about the run I had last year when I ran the person over, but I want to show everyone else what I can do. I can run around people and break tackles and miss tackles. That is what I want to show."
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The process begins Saturday at K-State's annual spring game. That's where McCoy, a 6-foot-2, 228-pound running back from Topeka will next get to show off his expanded talents. There is legitimate hope he will do exactly that. The Wildcats began spring practice three weeks ago, and he has been a pleasant surprise ever since.
He has turned lots of heads in scrimmages.
"Mike is a beast," K-State quarterback Alex Delton said. "Mike had a really good scrimmage two weeks ago, just a crazy effort. He never goes down. He breaks a freakish tackle and spins off a guy and the dude is still up, it’s kind of crazy I have never seen it before. You want the ball in his hands."
Some have predicted big things from McCoy since he arrived at K-State two years ago. A bruising runner with ideal size, he has always looked the part. But he needed a redshirt year to learn the offense and spent most of last season watching from the sideline as more experienced running backs Alex Barnes, Justin Silmon and Dalvin Warmack handled most of the carries.
K-State’s backfield remains crowded, but McCoy appears ready to take on a larger role, either as a ball-carrier, blocker or receiving threat.
Junior K-State running back Alex Barnes thinks the Wildcats may use multiple running backs in the same formation next season, and McCoy is ready to join the mix.
“That is something he has always had and always will have, being as freakishly big and strong as he is,” Barnes said. “But he has really worked on some of the smaller aspects of his routes like getting out on pass routes and pass protection. Some of his jukes have gotten a lot better, too.”
If he continues to play the way he has this spring, he could see serious action.
But he remains a work in progress.
“Mike McCoy is a very talented player, very physical player, very undisciplined player – two out of three doesn't work,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “When he gets the third order of business in place, he'll be a very fine player.”
That day is coming.
“I am really just doing all the little things,” McCoy said, “knowing what I need to do when I’m not running the ball, like reading defenses and different checks and reading signals and all the other things. My pass protection was a big thing I tried to work on in the offseason, just going hard in workouts and showing that I want it.”
Last year, McCoy had all the physical tools he needed to play running back for the Wildcats. But he lacked versatility and football IQ.
This year, he hopes to be a more complete player and flatten even more defenders.