Pitt's LeSean McCoy outruns pursuing defenders during the third quarter against Syracuse in late September.
By Paul Zeise Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt is known as one of the best recruiters in the country, but today he'll have to make one of his best sales pitches in order to hold on to one of his biggest recruits.
That's because Wannstedt will meet with standout sophomore tailback LeSean McCoy and his family this afternoon and McCoy is expected to tell his coach that he wants to leave school early and enter the NFL draft, according to sources close to the situation.
If McCoy follows through with his plan to enter the draft it would mark a complete turnaround from what he said Nov. 26 before the West Virginia game when he was asked about whether he would leave for the NFL or return to Pitt.
"Everyone keeps trying to push that idea that this is my last game at Heinz Field. I'm not going anywhere," McCoy said to a group of reporters. "There is a lot of stuff I have to prove, and the thing is I don't think I've done enough here at this university and there is a lot of stuff I have to achieve here. It is something I want to squash and get it over with and not have to talk about it because I am kind of getting a little fed up with it."
McCoy repeated that many times when the subject was broached, even during the week leading up to the Panthers' 3-0 loss in the Sun Bowl to Oregon State. But according to one family member, McCoy began to have a change of heart in El Paso, especially given the lackluster performance of the offense.
And even earlier this week in his postseason news conference, Wannstedt said that he had talked with McCoy and his family and that "LeSean believes, and his mom and dad believe, that he's excited about being here and we all believe that this next year will do nothing but enhance his opportunities for the National Football League."
But McCoy and his family were not ready to make a public declaration of his intentions at that time and he spent this week gathering information about his stock and where he might land in the NFL draft. He spoke with a number of people within the league, including former Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who left Pitt in 2003 after his sophomore season and is a starter for the Arizona Cardinals.
Wannstedt said that the draft advisory board as well as a number of his personal contacts throughout the league told him that McCoy would be a "late first- to early second-round pick."
The scuttlebutt about McCoy's intentions reached a fever pitch yesterday when he did not attend a post-bowl team meeting at the UPMC complex. Wannstedt, who was on the road recruiting last night, was not available for comment and calls to McCoy were not returned.
With McCoy, who is from Harrisburg, out of the mix, the Panthers' tailback position in the spring would become a competition between Shariff Harris, Chris Burns and Kevin Collier.
A number of high-profile underclassmen running backs already have declared for the draft. At the top of that list are Georgia's Knowshon Moreno and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells. It also includes Connecticut's Donald Brown, Wisconsin's P.J. Hill and Iowa's Shonn Greene.