The Real McCoys

Following in his brother’s footsteps, Case McCoy is looking to become the next quarterback for the Texas Longhorns.
The Brothers McCoy
Photograph courtesy of Torin Halsey, Wichita Falls Times Record News

In 2006 Colt McCoy stepped into the Texas Longhorns’ lineup to replace Vince Young, one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time. Now, as McCoy is wrapping up his own storied career, possibly becoming college football’s all-time winningest quarterback, among those looking to succeed him is a familiar face: his brother.

For the next two months, Case McCoy’s primary concern is directing the Graham High School Steers through their remaining regular-season games and deep into the Class 3A playoffs. But soon after, he’ll officially become part of the University of Texas’s 2010 recruiting class and begin competing for a spot as the Longhorns quarterback.

Brothers who have become successful college and pro quarterbacks aren’t that unusual. The Mannings, Peyton and Eli, are the most well-known. Texas has seen it before, with Ty and Koy Detmer. The sons of Texas high school coaching legend Sonny Detmer, Ty won a Heisman Trophy at Brigham Young University and played several seasons in the NFL, while Koy set passing records at the University of Colorado. But it’s rare that a pair of brothers follow each other in consecutive stints at the same college. Case’s path to the Forty Acres is just one of many similarities he bears to his older sibling.

For starters, Case wears No. 4 because that’s what his brother wore in high school. Standing on the sidelines, Case can be spotted wearing his helmet tilted back on his head in a way that recalls Colt. The effect is amplified by the fact that both teams’ helmets bear the iconic Longhorn logo, even if one is in Graham’s blue rather than Texas’s burnt orange. They both played for small-town teams: Graham High School has a little more than seven hundred students, while Jim Ned High School in Tuscola had just over three hundred students when Colt played there.

Then there are the similarities in their playing style, but that’s not too surprising. Both were coached by their dad, Brad McCoy, and both emerged as accurate passers who can make plays on the run.

“In high school, a lot of people say that if you put in tapes of both of our seasons, you see a lot of the same things,” Case says. “Neither one of us is the greatest athlete, I’ll say that, but we’ve spent a lot of time studying the game. There’s a lot to that and being a coach’s son and making plays when plays are falling apart.”

Of course there are differences between the two brothers, but even within the family, where they sometimes mistake Case’s voice on the phone for Colt’s, they’re hard-pressed to come up with some. Case likes fishing, Colt prefers hunting. Brad McCoy points out that Case is a little taller and bigger than Colt was at the same age, and Case admits to liking Cokes where his older brother swore off carbonated drinks years ago.

Case says he’s learned a lot from watching his brother go through the ups and downs of hard-nosed West Texas high school football and then a college career spent in the national spotlight, but their dad points out that Case took on his brother’s competitive fire early on.

In 2003 Brad was coaching Tuscola’s Jim Ned High School where Colt was a junior quarterback and Case was a sixth-grader who roamed the sidelines as the Indians’ ball boy. Jim Ned made it to the Class 2A state championship game against San Augustine, but time was running out and the chances for a state title began to fade.

“It was getting close to the end of the game, and we were down two touchdowns. It was cold, Colt had hurt his thumb, and it was obvious that we weren’t going to get it done,” Brad remembers. “I looked down at Case, and he was just in tears. I asked him, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘We’re going to lose.’ It was something just to see what he felt for his brother as a sixth-grader and that he had that competitive spirit that burns for them both.”

That shared will to win has served the brothers well this season. The Longhorns are 7-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country, while the Graham Steers made it through the first seven weeks of their season unbeaten before a last-second, one-point loss on October 23 at Brownwood.

But Case says he knows that high school success and a famous last name don’t guarantee him a starting role when he gets to college. He’ll be competing against top quarterbacks both in his same recruiting class and already in uniform for the Longhorns. Former high school player of the year Garrett Gilbert of Lake Travis has already seen playing time for Texas as a freshman, and he is assumed to be next in line when Colt’s college career ends. And coming to Austin next year in the same class as Case is Connor Wood of Houston’s Second Baptist School, the sixth-best quarterback in the country, according to scout.com. McCoy, by comparison, is ranked No. 47.

Even in that scenario, there are similarities to what Colt experienced. Before being named UT’s starter five days prior to the 2006 season opener as a redshirt freshman, Colt battled high school All-American Jevan Snead for the job as Young’s successor. Three years later, Colt has won 39 games as the Longhorns’ quarterback—as many as Peyton Manning won in his college career and only three behind record-holder David Greene of Georgia. Snead later transferred to Ole Miss and became one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC.

“I think it’s great that [Case] decided to come to Texas,” Colt says. “I know he’s really excited that he had an opportunity to come here and play, and I’m looking forward to watching him. When you think about it, it’s a blessing that I was able to come from a small school and play at Texas, but for both of us to have that opportunity is really special.”

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