Second-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was thrust into a familiar situation last season as a rookie. Since his days at Oklahoma, he’s been linked to prominent stars, from a teams past. For the Sooners it was Tommie Harris, as a rookie with the Bucs, it was Warren Sapp. It has led McCoy to mimic those stars rather then truly carve out his own niche.
After reflecting on his first season as a pro McCoy understands he can’t be anyone but his best self. “I can only be me,” McCoy told the St. Petersburg Times. “I can’t try and be somebody else. I can learn to play my position, but I can only do it the way I play. I can try to mimic people, but I can’t be somebody else. I can’t be (Warren) Sapp. I tried to be Sapp last year. … Just like I tried to be (Pro Bowler) Tommie Harris at Oklahoma, but I couldn’t be. I had to be Gerald.”
McCoy whom the Bucs moved around early an often along the defensive front did not begin to blossom until he was left in the middle. After struggling through his first nine games, without a sack, the pressure mounted on McCoy. He had three sacks in his next two games, but was lost for the year, when he sustained a season-ending torn biceps. Two games later against the Redskins.
After a season of reflection and reshaping his body, McCoy has taken on a more prominent role as a vocal leader on a young an inexperienced defense. With the help of new defensive line coach and pass rush specialist Keith Millard, he’s looking to shake the stigma of being an impressionist and step through the shadows as the “Real McCoy”.