First, it was a simple out route and a four-yard pickup on second down. Then, USC quarterback Kedon Slovis went back to one of his newer targets on an inside slant for 11 yards and the first down.’
Two plays later, the big physical receiver ducked under a tackle and turned a short gain into 23 yards and an entry point in the red zone.
It was a critical opening drive to the second half as USC attempted to build a two-possession lead over Utah, and on three out of four plays the Trojans went to redshirt freshman receiver Bru McCoy.
In a position group filled with veterans and other young up-and-comers like himself, McCoy has established himself in the USC receiver hierarchy this year. Slovis and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell have trusted him to be the fourth man on the field, and he’s shown up for those moments.
Like that drive against Utah, like his tipped touchdown reception in the wild comeback against Arizona State.
“He’s been kinda taking his role and just starring in it, whatever it is, if it’s five plays, if it’s 20 plays, if it’s 30 plays, he just goes as hard as he can and he just tries to make plays,” receivers coach Keary Colbert said Wednesday. “He’s a very hardworking young man. Football means a lot to him.”
McCoy is fourth on USC in receptions (13) and receiving yards (142), behind last year’s stalwarts Amon-Ra St. Brown, Drake London and Tyler Vaughns.
But he’s just one of several young Trojan receivers waiting for their chance. John Jackson III caught his first career pass earlier this season, a 23-yarder. Speedy true freshman Gary Bryant Jr. has gotten the chance to return kicks the past two games. And there are several others who are still in the wings, like true freshman Josh Jackson Jr. or the injured Kyle Ford.
All came to USC as highly touted recruits. But Colbert said each is showing patience even in a crowded receivers room.
“We have team goals and then we have offensive unit goals and then we have position group goals, and then after comes the individual and everybody’s individual goals. As long as all those things are in order, I don’t see things getting in the way,” Colbert said.
“There’s a lot of great things that can be done on a football field without any statistics. Those dudes are working their tails off, and of course everyone wants to be rewarded with the ball, and that will come in time. We’re looking forward to finding ways to get those guys involved a little more.”