A new series on fifth down looks at the best players playing college football this season and compares them to a similar player from the past.
Colt McCoy, Texas QB – Drew Brees, Purdue QB (2001)
The similarities between these two field generals are uncanny. Both players were all-stars at Texas high schools, where they both led their teams to the state championship game. Brees won the 5A title at Southlake High School, while McCoy led Jim Ned High School to the 2A title game before losing.
As a sophomore at Purdue, Brees was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year by the media. It was Brees’ first season as a starter, and his second year on campus. McCoy started for the Longhorns as a redshirt freshman, and set a then-NCAA record for touchdown passes by a freshman with 29.
In those respective seasons, both Texas and Purdue played in the Alamo Bowl, and both won.
As McCoy completed his junior season at Texas, he completed an astounding 77 percent of his passes and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting. If all goes according to planned, he will be in New York again for another chance at winning the award. Entering this season, McCoy’s career completion percentage was 70.2.
Brees was also a runner-up for the Heisman as a junior in 1999. In that season, he completed 61 percent of his passes for nearly 4,000 yards. Even though that is 16 percentage points behind McCoy, 70 percent is the new 60 with spread offenses calling for deadly accurate passers and tons of short completion-based routes.
Both players are criticized for being undersized – Brees stands a shade over six feet tall, McCoy is six feet, two inches – and not having howitzer-powered arm strength. Looking across the NFL, quarterbacks who are the most accurate have had far more success than the ones with big, strong arms.
Michael Vick, JaMarcus Russell, and David Carr all wowed scouts before they were drafted with their ability to launch the ball miles down the field, however none turned out to be great passers in the pros.
On the other side, quarterbacks who relay on their accuracy like Brees, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers are among the league’s elite. McCoy looks to be the next one to fit that bill.
This is one of the best quarterback classes in recent memory, with McCoy, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, and Jevan Snead all expected to be picked in the first round of next year’s draft. Of the four, McCoy looks like the one best equipped to run an NFL offense. If he turns out anything like his molded superstar Brees, he’ll live up to whatever paycheck he earns.