Friday, February 26, 2010

Gerald McCoy: Faith and Football

OU vs. Texas 2008. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy rolls to his right trying to avoid the mountain of a man bearing down on him. He ducks, trying to get away, but is unable to escape the massive arms of #93 and is taken down for a loss.

Gerald McCoy hops up, walks around as he is mobbed by his teammates and then heads back to the line of scrimmage, ready for the next play. Typical of the big fella.

Gerald McCoy is a big man. No other way to say it. He is big in stature at 6’4” 295 pounds and his smile is a mile wide. But it’s the size of his faith that sets him apart from both a lot of athletes and just people in general.

Gerald said that he grew up in a Christian home and practically lived at church when he was young. In spite of that, he didn’t really start living for Christ until his junior year of high school.

“I was in the crowd that was known as the church guys but I wasn’t doing the things that a church guy would be known to do,” Gerald said. “I just decided that I needed to change what I was doing because I was supposed to be the church guy and I needed to be living a certain way and I just wasn’t doing that.”

Gerald says that this change in his life has really impacted the way that he lives now and the way that he goes about football. He isn’t big on individual achievement and knows that all of his talents and abilities are gifts from God.

“I just say that it’s not my skill, not my talent, and not my work ethic,” Gerald said. “Everything I do God has given me and I want to give it back to him, offer it back up to him. However he wants to use me, then I want him to use me. I don’t care how.”

This attitude carries over to the way that Gerald plays and goes about his football business. His teammates have taken notice of it too. Gerald was elected as a team captain by his teammates for the 2008 season as a sophomore, an almost unprecedented accomplishment on a veteran laden team.

“I lead more by example than voice,” Gerald said. “As far as leadership goes, I lead by how I play, how I am in the classroom, my work ethic, things like that. That’s where more of my leadership role as a captain comes in.”

Gerald’s teammates respect him, as evidenced by them electing him team captain. They admire his hard work and the enthusiasm with which he goes about playing the game.

“He is just an enthusiastic player,” said sophomore offensive lineman Cory Brandon. “He plays hard, he works hard and he is just a great guy.”

Junior tight end Jermaine Gresham and freshman defensive end Frank Alexander also said that Gerald was a hard worker and also said that he is crazy and a really funny guy to be around.

The football field is far and away the place where Gerald excels. As a freshman in 2007, he was named Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and was named to several freshman All-American teams. In 2008, he was named to the Sporting News All-American team and was named a first team Big 12 defensive player. Gerald isn’t all about his on the field activities and accolades though.

Gerald is the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Chapter at OU. It’s something that he says that he has been involved with for many years.

“I’ve always been involved in FCA,” Gerald said. “That started in middle school, but I seriously got involved my senior year of high school.”

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at OU encompasses a wide range of students and not all of them are athletes. In fact, Gerald said that more than half are non-athletes.

“FCA stands for Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” said senior public relations major JT DeBerry. “FCA is a place for not just athletes, but non-athletes too, to just take a day off each week and just come fellowship, eat food, play games and just have a good time.”

Gerald simply takes a different attitude toward life than a lot of people. He truly epitomizes what it means to be a student athlete. He is a quality student as a communications major, but also supports the other sports at OU. And boy is he full of spirit.

“I love my school,” said Gerald. “Whatever school I attend, that’s the school I represent. Now I’m in college and it’s my state against your state.”

Gerald also said that he really appreciates the support the other athletes give the football team and that it’s only right that he support them as well.

“I know that a lot of those people in the stadium are student athletes and they need support in their sport too,” Gerald said. “I don’t mind doing that because they come support us every Saturday.”

The other athletes have taken note of Gerald’s support and know that it’s not something that he does because he has to, but rather out of a sheer love for competition, winning, and his school.

“I think Gerald is the ultimate man in every category,” said women’s basketball star Courtney Paris. “He supports everyone so he is just the ultimate Sooner and you always appreciate his support.”

For example, at the men’s basketball game against Texas Tech on Valentine’s Day, Gerald showed up with big angel wings, boxer shorts with hearts all over them, and a headband with pipe cleaners attached in the shape of hearts. The students loved it.

“It’s not everyday that you see a student athlete support his fellow athletes like Gerald does in such a passionate way,” said freshman meteorology major Kevin Burns. “Gerald is a great leader for both the team and also for the students.”

With spring practice in the books, hopes are high for the 2009 football season. Gerald said that he thinks it’s going to be a good one.

“It’s good to have Sam back and Jermaine,” Gerald said. “We have a lot of guys returning on defense. It’s going to be a good year.”

One thing is for sure. No matter how the season turns out for the Sooners, they will have #93 on the defensive line, giving his all on every play, serving as their very own minister of defense.