By Max Luckan
Gerald McCoy, DT, #93
Weight: 295 lbs.
Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Finally healthy for what looks like a full season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have benefited from the play of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy this season. McCoy has been a staple on the defensive line in 2012 for the Bucs, and a key cog in the strong run defense that the Bucs have established. In fact, they’re ranked first in the NFL against the run, allowing only 83.7 rushing yards per game. McCoy has plenty of upside that the Bucs should be thrilled about for the future.
McCoy, born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, attended Southeast High School in Oklahoma City. He played football at Southeast High School, and racked up an astonishing 20 sacks and 83 tackles as a junior. As a result, McCoy won multiple awards throughout his high school football career, and was actually ranked as the top defensive tackle in his class by major recruiting websites such as Rivals.com.
Because of his successful high school playing career, McCoy was able to attend the University of Oklahoma, and he had the privilege of playing under Bob Stoops from 2006 to 2009. Throughout his college career, McCoy tallied a total of 83 tackles and 14.5 sacks in 40 games. McCoy played in a great system under Stoops at Oklahoma, and was highly touted as a top prospect for the 2010 NFL Draft. In fact, many analysts predicted that McCoy could potentially be a top-three pick in the draft.
They were spot on, as McCoy was drafted third overall by the Bucs in 2010. He was selected right behind Ndamukong Suh out of Nebraska, who was picked by the Detroit Lions. Shortly after, McCoy and the Bucs agreed to a five-year, $63 million contract. That hefty contract displayed the confidence the Bucs had in McCoy, and they truly believed that he had the ability to develop into an elite defensive tackle.
But that hasn’t quite happened up to this point. In his first season, McCoy struggled notably, recording only three sacks in 13 games before ending up on injured reserve. Ready to prove himself the following season, McCoy played extremely well for a while, but ended up on injured reserve again. For whatever reason, McCoy tore his biceps in his first two seasons, and he was shut down for the remainder of the season both times.
Finally this year, all that promise that McCoy showed coming out of college has become visible. While he doesn’t put up the big numbers, though he’s capable, McCoy has made a huge difference on the defensive line. He’s been crucial in stopping the run, but also in rushing the passer. McCoy has five sacks to his credit this year and he’s looking to improve on that number next season. At last, McCoy has been healthy for pretty much a whole season, and the critics that have labeled him as a “bust” have praised his play all season long.
McCoy’s future with the team is certainly bright, but in order to turn into an elite defensive tackle, McCoy will have to do whatever it takes to stay healthy.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.