Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

McCoy transferri­ng to UF

- By Chris Hays Staff writer

T.J. McCoy always wanted to be a Florida Gator. It was his dream to follow in the footsteps of his father. This just wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen.

Fresh off his first semester of college at NC State, McCoy knew what had to be done once he returned home to Groveland last month. The former South Lake all-state center, who had enrolled at NC State this past January, was needed closer to home.

His father has been battling leukemia for four years. With the rehabilita­tion from post-chemothera­py treatments draining the energy of Tony McCoy on a daily basis, T.J. pursued a release from his scholarshi­p at NC State. His father is in remission, but his battle with cancer has taken a toll on his body.

“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 during an interview on Father’s Day. “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.”

Watching Tony McCoy battle cancer has not been easy for the family. He was an All-SEC defensive tackle in 1991, the year the Gators won their first conference title under coach Steve Spurrier. He played 10 years in the NFL with the Colts and the Cardinals.

T.J. McCoy had no inten- tion of leaving NC State for good. He thought he was just coming home for summer break.

“I’m a true believer in that things happen for a reason,” T.J. McCoy said.

The McCoys will be forever grateful to NC State coach Dave Doeren.

“I talked to coach Doeren and I explained to him what was going on with my father and he was very understand­ing,” T.J. McCoy said. “He granted me a hardship waiver and now I’m home and I am transferri­ng to UF.

McCoy visited Florida last week and met with new coach Jim McElwain and offensive line coach Mike Summers. UF is in need of offensive line help. It was perfect timing for both parties and McCoy will be immediatel­y eligible after receiving the hardship waiver.

“Yes there was a time when I wanted to go to Florida, and I am very excited that I am at Florida now,” McCoy said. “I know the circumstan­ces aren’t how I’d like ... I’m not glad this is the reason, but I’m glad to be close to home and I’m glad to be a Gator.”

McCoy said he was working his way up the NC State depth chart at center and never planned on transferri­ng.

“I had a great spring. I didn’t even think about leaving there until after I came home,” T.J. McCoy said.

Tony McCoy has to travel to UF’s Shands Hospital in Gainesvill­e for rehabilita­tion maintenanc­e treatment and checkups once a month. It’s a little more than an hour from the McCoys’ home in Groveland.

“He’s a fighter,” said Jodie McCoy, Tony’s wife. 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.”

So his dream to follow in his father’s footsteps comes about, albeit with unfortunat­e circumstan­ces, but the family is happy.

McCoy, a 6-foot-1, 315-pounder who can play either center or guard, played mostly center last season at South Lake and had an impressive senior year. He was named Florida Athletic Coaches Associatio­n District 8 MVP, a rare feat for an offensive lineman. He also played in the Central Florida All-Star Game.

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