"I made the decision around mid-season when I knew that I would have enough credits to graduate," McCoy said. "Graduation was my main goal and once I knew I had that accomplished, I wanted to look at playing in the NFL.
"I loved my experience at OU and I'm going to miss it. I accomplished almost everything I wanted to get done here and it has been very positive with my teammates, the coaches, the fans, everyone."
OU Head Coach Bob Stoops praised McCoy and endorsed his decision to enter the draft.
"Gerald is a great example of how to be a student-athlete," said Stoops. "He came here, took care of his academic responsibilities, invested himself in the lives of others and had a great career on the field. I've never been associated with a young man who was any more impressive than Gerald.
"He is extremely mature, and that fact, along with what he has done academically, makes this decision to enter the draft a good one for him."
The announcement comes before McCoy's final game in a Sooner uniform, the 2009 Brut Sun Bowl versus Stanford on Dec. 31. He insists there are no distractions leading into that contest.
"I'm not worried about any of that right now," McCoy said. "We have a big game to win and for now I am a Sooner."
McCoy, from Oklahoma City, was USA Today's National Defensive Player of the Year after his senior season at Southeast High School. He then redshirted during his freshman season at OU, 2006.
He was Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the year and a freshman All-American by numerous outlets in 2007, while helping the Sooners to the Big 12 championship. He spearheaded another Big 12 championship in 2008 when he was cited as a first-team All-American by The Sporting News.
To date, McCoy has 80 career tackles, including 13.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss. He also registered two fumbles caused, one fumble recovery, one interception and four pass deflections.
With 39 consecutive starts he has established a school record for defensive tackles.
McCoy's impact off the field matched what he accomplished in uniform. A frequent public speaker, he has participated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the United Way and Meals on Wheels among others, while also speaking out against violence towards women and appearing in juvenile centers, with children's groups, elementary schools and area hospitals.
"You never know who needs to hear something from you that day; who needs some encouragement," McCoy said. "When you are a football player at Oklahoma, some people automatically look up to you. I always felt like it was my duty to do all of those things. God called me to that service."
McCoy hopes to do even more. His mother, Patricia, died before her son began his college career. It had been her dream to open a facility in Oklahoma City to receive those who had been evicted and needed a home.
"I want to help get one of those built in her name," he said. "I also want to be involved with a community center for kids. Children will be my main focus."
McCoy said that he will hire an agent after the bowl game and then begin training in earnest for the NFL Combine.