December 2009 Clay Meyer
Brad McCoy has a favorite story to tell about his son Colt. It’s one that makes him more proud of his oldest boy than any touchdown pass ever could. Three years ago, Brad received a phone call on a Sunday afternoon from a man who had taken his 7-year-old son to church in Austin, Texas, earlier that morning. The man and his boy had taken seats directly behind Colt on the morning after the University of Texas quarterback had been injured in a road loss to Kansas State. Despite a trip to the hospital that revealed a pinched nerve in Colt’s neck and a late return to Austin, Colt was still in church at 8 a.m. for worship. The father explained to Brad that he and his son knew Colt had been hurt. They knew he must have been tired. But there he was, still in church praising God.
As the father finished the story, nearly in tears, he said, “There is no way that I would ever be able to teach my son a lesson like that. He will remember that for
the rest of his life."
That story is one in a mounting collection that Brad has heard regarding the noble actions of his famous son—a library that even includes a life-saving rescue mission he and Colt performed at a local lake in the summer of 2006. And, as each Saturday passes, this legend-in-the-making continues to grow.
Colt McCoy—the name alone sounds like something straight out of a classic black and white western. But this is a different type of Texas gunslinger. Armed with a rifle of an arm and pinpoint accuracy, McCoy leaves gridiron defenses in the dust as his Longhorns light up the scoreboard. There’s even a hint of a fairy tale thrown in: the small-town high school hero who became the quarterback of the state’s marquee university.
For McCoy there is only one desired ending to this tale: a national championship. Yet, when the smoke clears—national championship or not—he realizes he’s been placed on a national platform to, above all, glorify Jesus Christ. Regardless of the how the scenes play out, it’s been a great story so far—one in which McCoy admits he’s simply played a supporting role to the main Man.
“I realize God has given me this opportunity and that it’s a platform to shine the light for Him,” McCoy said. “I know I wouldn’t be here without Him. I want to be a guy people can look to and see Christ shining through me.”
Setting the Stage
Colt McCoy - #12
|University of Texas|
Born: September 5, 1986
Hometown: Tuscola, Texas
Height/Weight: 6-2/210 lbs.
• 2008 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
• 2008 Walter Camp Award winner
• 2008 Archie Griffin Award winner
FCA Staff Quote:
“Colt is just like the saying, ‘He may not be in a class by himself, but it doesn’t take long to call the roll.’ He’s the real deal—a really nice, genuine, normal guy. There are only a handful of colleges and universities where the quarterback can rise to thteis kind of level, and Colt is a servant at heart who is very committed to the platform that God has given him at the University of Texas.”
– FCA Area Director Reagan Lambert
The oldest of three sons, Colt McCoy grew up in Tuscola, Texas, a small town just outside of Abilene, Texas, with an official population of 714. The McCoy sons were raised in a traditional rural Texas family. They respected the land and took care of what God had entrusted to them. And, in even more typical Texas fashion, they loved football.
From the time McCoy started playing the game, people knew he was going to be special.
“People asked me if I had any clue how special he really was and how good he was going to be,” said Brad, who coached Colt at Jim Ned High School. “A guy told me after the third game Colt played as a seventh grader that he was going to win the Heisman one day. I just laughed and told him he was crazy. But it was obviously noticeable that he had a lot of special characteristics.”
At the time, McCoy was developing in more ways than on the football field. He also was cultivating a close relationship with the Lord. At age 14, McCoy gave his life to Christ and was baptized shortly after.
“That was one of the greatest days of my life,” McCoy said. “At that point I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore. It wasn’t about me doing everything in my life, but about my giving my life to Christ and letting Him lead me every day.”
Almost simultaneously, both McCoy’s spiritual and football development shifted into overdrive. He had been involved with FCA since middle school, but with a new faith commitment, the Huddle meetings and church services took on new meaning. Godly leadership began to determine his actions, and the young quarterback matured spiritually.
“Sure, it has been a challenge from that day forward because the devil wants to take hold of you,” McCoy said. “But, at the same time, if you are living for the Lord and you keep Him No. 1 in your life, good things are going to happen.”
Back on the field those good things kept coming and, McCoy’s football fame skyrocketed. His final high school statistics left him as the all-time leading passer in Texas 2A history and fourth in all divisions. The stats drew prominent coaches from around the country to the Texas plains and into the McCoys’ living room. But McCoy was a Texas Longhorn through and through, and, after hitting it off with Head Coach Mack Brown, he committed to staying close to home and proudly donning the signature burnt orange.
Understudy Takes the Lead Redshirted in his first year at UT, McCoy ran the Longhorns’ scout-team offense in practice, helping to condition and strengthen the first-team defense and eventually aiding in their 2005 BCS National Championship victory. McCoy watched from the sidelines as quarterback Vince Young led Texas to a come-from-behind victory over USC in what is widely considered one of the greatest games in college football history.
Two days after the win, McCoy received a text message from Young saying that he would forego his senior year and enter the NFL draft. The boy from Tuscola would now have some large shoes to fill in taking over one of the most highly scrutinized positions in the country: the starting quarterback of the Texas Longhorns.
His teammates quickly rallied around him after the announcement and assured him of their support. More than 20 fellow Longhorns called or texted the young quarterback telling him not to worry and that he was ready.
Being rooted in Christ helped alleviate the pressure, too. McCoy recognized the promotion as an opportunity to glorify God and has maintained that humble mindset in the four years of success that have followed.
“I can prepare and practice as much as I want, but in the end I have to trust God with the results,” he said. “It’s not about me and never has been. It’s not about what I do or what I say; it’s about living for Christ and accomplishing His will for my life.”
That attitude isn’t just reserved for the football field and weight room, but is also one he carries into his work ethic in school and extensive community outreach.
“It’s the same with going to class and doing different activities on and off campus,” McCoy said. “I trust that God will use my life in some way to help somebody else.”
Many of those activities he refers to are ministry-based. Whether it is visiting children’s hospitals, traveling to Peru for mission trips or speaking at local FCA events, McCoy is aware of the opportunity he has to be a witness, to pour into the lives of others and also to receive spiritual encouragement for himself.
“Through FCA I have been able to meet other Christian athletes on campus,” he said. “We have such a wide variety of sports here and there are so many athletes involved. To have us all in this one place at the same time has been a blessing.”
Becoming the Hero
L to R: Case, Brad, Debra, Chance and Colt McCoy
After consecutive 10-win seasons, including Alamo and Holiday Bowl wins in 2006 and 2007, the Longhorns finished the 2008 regular season 11-1 but on the outside of the national championship picture.
The disappointment of missing the title game was something Brad McCoy knew his son could handle, and he watched proudly as he saw Colt use it to create opportunities to help others.
“A lot of times things aren’t going to be fair, whether it’s in football or in life,” Brad said. “Colt has a tremendous grasp on that aspect of the world, and he really helped others learn those lessons last season.”
Despite their disappointment, McCoy helped his team prepare for their Fiesta Bowl showdown against Ohio State. The nation watched as he engineered a lategame drive and threw a game-winning touchdown pass with less than a minute to play.
Individual accolades poured in following what was statistically the most accurate season for a quarterback in NCAA history. McCoy set an alltime mark with his 77.6 completion percentage and surpassed a number of other UT records. He was awarded the Walter Camp and Archie Griffin awards given by their respective committees to the top college football player in the nation, was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and finished as the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
No one was surprised when the NFL came calling, but McCoy decided to return for his senior season to compete alongside fellow returning Heisman candidates Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and Florida’s Tim Tebow.
Now headlining a talented group of college quarterbacks who proclaim faith in Christ, including both Bradford and Tebow, USC’s Matt Barkley, Houston’s Case Keenum and Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson among others, McCoy knows that the hand of God is moving in a powerful way.
“I am very excited to see guys like Matt Barkley, Sam and Tim; they are tremendous football players,” McCoy said. “There are so many Christian guys doing awesome things on their teams. College football is in an exciting time now.”
To Be Continued
Under the bright Saturday-night stadium lights, the last scene in this act of the story is still being written. McCoy is meticulously steering the Longhorns through a tough 2009 schedule, hoping for a final shot at the elusive national championship game. Rather than revel in the fame of sold-out stadiums, though, he is reflecting the glory to God and replacing the glitz and glam of the high-profile, big-man-on-campus lifestyle with a quiet stream and a fishing pole.
He’s simply the son of a football family from a small Texas town who is passionate about football and even more so about Jesus Christ. Soon his game days will shift to Sundays, but that won’t keep Colt McCoy from his Father’s house. Whether he’s in an NFL chapel or an Austin church, McCoy will still show up to worship God for all He has done and all He’s blessed him with. As the world keeps watching, he’ll continue to show them that there’s more to this gunslinger than a rifle for an arm and a made-for-Hollywood story.
Honesty in Christian leadership: “You have to be honest in everything you do. When guys come up and say, ‘Hey, what has gotten you to where you are today? There’s something different about you,’ you have to be honest with them and tell them. Many times, I’ve used that honesty just to be able to talk to somebody or open up a conversation about where godly confidence comes from.”
The power of influence: “I have to ask myself, ‘What am I doing to let the guys see that they can trust and respect me?’ God has truly blessed me to be here, and I know there have been many guys who have decided to love the Lord, and it’s not my doing at all. It’s just the influence that God has had on our football team and our locker room in the four years that I’ve been here, and it has been amazing.”
--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.
Photos courtesy UT Athletics Photography, Debra and Brad McCoy