T.J. McCoy was an N.C. State freshman this spring.
Now, because of unfortunate family circumstances and Florida's dire need for offensive line help, McCoy will be close to home — and a Gator.
McCoy has transferred to Florida, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting. The paper's first tweet on the situation hit the Internet somewhat unexpectedly late Sunday night, with McCoy's name surprising most within Florida's fan base and on the Florida beat.
Thanks to a hardship waiver, McCoy will be immediately eligible to play for Florida this fall, the Sentinel reports, likely adding depth to a line that can use as much as it can get.
But the Gators may be trying to keep the news quiet. McCoy announced the news of his transfer via his Twitter account, but has since removed that tweet — and a mention of being a Florida Gators player in his bio. McCoy's header picture, though, still features him and his family on the University of Florida practice fields, and his location is listed as "Gainsville Florida," typo included. McCoy is also no longer listed on the N.C. State roster.
With Florida's Summer B term — traditionally the start of most incoming freshmen athletes' careers as enrolled Gators — beginning next Monday, June 29, players will be arriving in Gainesville soon. It's likely to the full story on McCoy's status will be told by Florida before long, but the Sentinel article, rife with quotes from McCoy about Florida and his father, is rather unlikely to be a hoax.
For the Gators, adding another freshman offensive lineman — McCoy should be the eighth true freshman lineman on scholarship this fall, and Florida added two more walk-on linemen last week, too — is a coup. The circumstances, though, make this move about much more than football.
T.J. McCoy's father is Tony McCoy, a former All-SEC defensive tackle during his time at Florida in the early 1990s, and the thing that spurred his son to return home is his father's continued struggles with post-chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, certainly less than happy news. The Sentinel reports that the elder McCoy's cancer is in remission, but his post-chemo treatment, which includes regular trips to Florida's Shands Hospital in Gainesville, is apparently draining:
"When I came home and I saw my dad's condition, I thought to myself, 'I have to be home. I have to be closer to him to help out,' " T.J. McCoy said Sunday night. "When I saw him at home and saw how he was hurting and struggling, I knew I just had to be home and help out.
And this quote from Jodi McCoy, Tony's wife, certainly makes the post-chemotherapy treatment sound like an ongoing struggle.
"He's a fighter," said Tony's wife Jodie McCoy. Tony and Jodie are co-founders and pastors at Hope International Church in Groveland. "We just thank God for the coaching staff at NC State and they were willing to help out. ... We were blessed."
That N.C. State coaching staff, led by Dave Doeren, is doing a good thing, letting go of a promising offensive lineman so he can be close to his family, and T.J. McCoy sounds quite grateful for that opportunity.
"I talked to Coach Doeren and I explained to him what was going on with my father and he was very understanding," T.J. said. "He granted me a hardship waiver and now I'm home and I am transferring to UF.
"Coach Doeren was very understanding. He's a family man and he just told me, 'T.J., family comes first and I understand that you are dealing with a family issue,' and he granted me the release."
Now, after an announcement on Father's Day, T.J. McCoy is close to home, and to his family. He's a Gator, too, and his impact on Florida's offensive line will matter at some point — but his reunion with his family matters more.
Happy Father's Day dad I love you so much and I want to continue to make you proud. pic.twitter.com/ghcZxgSUwh— TJ McCoy (@TJ_McCoy70) June 21, 2015