After an injury during his senior season at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, LeSean McCoy said he got a little heavier and had difficulty taking it off during his time at Milford Academy in New York.
"This training, it's really something here,'' McCoy said while watching Pitt's Prospects Camp. "It's a hard, intense workout with everybody giving 110 percent. I was about 218 or 220, but I'm down to 207, 205 now. And I've only been here three weeks. I think it's a combination of working out and eating right. That's been a big difference for me.
"And I might even be a little quicker now, because I really stretch out. I never trained like that before. But, really, I'm just so grateful to be here at Pitt. Taking the route I took, going from high school to Milford to Pitt, it's amazing to me that I made it here. It's a blessing, really, but I'm here, and I'm looking forward to having a big season. I think we can be really good.''
While expectations for the Pitt football program are high going into this season, they are through the roof for McCoy. It's actually been suggested that the Panthers take Heisman Trophy-winner Tony Dorsett's number out of retirement to give to McCoy for his freshman season.
That's certainly extreme. And for the record, McCoy likely will get the No. 25 used by Darrelle Revis the past three years since his No. 20 is being used by redshirt sophomore defensive back Irvan Brown. And McCoy favors New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, who wears No. 25 as well.
"I didn't hear anything like that about Dorsett,'' McCoy said. "I heard some stuff, but not that. I don't think so. At first, the high expectations were a little tough, but in the end it's what you want. You want people to think highly of you, and you definitely have to think highly of yourself.
"That way, you can't worry about setting high goals, because they're already there for you. So, it's a good thing. But I want to do some big things this year and help my teammates have a better season. That's why I came to Pitt. I think we have a good team and a lot of potential. We have a lot of talent, but we just have to keep working hard to come together this summer.''
McCoy's development certainly will be critical to the team's success, but he realizes that he'll likely have to share time with incumbent starting tailback LaRod Stephens-Howling. The speedy Stephens-Howling led Pitt with 893 yards and nine rushing touchdowns as a sophomore last season.
"LaRod's definitely pretty good, and there are a lot of things that he does well,'' McCoy said. "But I think we'll have a pretty good matchup. We both have a lot to offer the offense, and we both bring a lot to the table. He helps me out a lot, too, just like another coach out there. It's always better when a player helps you out. You look up to those guys.
"(And) this team right here, I think we can be pretty good this season. I think we'll surprise a lot of people, a lot of the other teams, because there's a lot of talent on this football team. I knew we had some good players, but I really didn't know how much talent we have here. So, there's some good guys here and some great coaches, and I think there's a different attitude this year.''
McCoy believed that the Panthers just appeared to be more intense in during their workouts, more focused and serious about them, and that would make a different this season. With the addition of McCoy and improvement by the offensive line and wideouts, Pitt's offense could be more explosive this year.
One critical factor will be the performance by the Panthers' starting quarterback. Junior Bill Stull, redshirt freshman Kevan Smith and frosh Pat Bostick are competing for the No. 1 job.
"Everybody's done a good job, but Bill's a little bit ahead, I think,'' McCoy said. "He's been here before, and he knows the offense the best. But Kevan, he does a lot of good things, and so does Pat. He's not very mobile, but he knows the offense pretty well for just being here three weeks.
"He knows it like a coach. I think all three would do pretty well, but I think Bill's going to be ahead going into camp. He was in the lead after the spring, so their performance in camp will be the key. I'm looking forward to it, too, because that's when we'll find out a lot about this team.''
And McCoy will find out if his offseason conditioning work has paid off.