Shady Says He's Coming Back

Several 2009 NFL Draft outlooks have Pitt's LeSean McCoy listed among the prospective first-round picks, since the sophomore tailback is eligible due to spending a year at a prep school before joining the Panthers.

However, LeSean McCoy said Tuesday that doesn't matter, because he definitely will return to the Pittsburgh next season.

"I'm talented, but right now I'm in school and I'm looking to stay here,'' McCoy said. "I'm not really pushing to go anywhere. When you look at the pros, guys like Ray Lewis and (Brian) Urlacher, that's their job.

"When you're in college, you can have fun and just play ball. But those guys, it's their job. There's a lot of things on my end that I can do better. Coach Wannstedt, he'll tell me when it's time. And I feel that I'm not ready yet.''

What if Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, who spent some 15 years in the NFL with several different franchises, got word from his contacts that McCoy would be a sure-bet first-round pick in 2009 if he turns pro after this season?

"The thing is, they can say that, but I'm the one who has to do it,'' McCoy said. "I'm the one who has to take all the hits. I'm still a young kid. I think my size, I can get a little bigger and stronger, and I can become a better blocker.

"My knowledge of the game is coming on faster than I thought, and that's pretty good for me. Other than that, it's just my size and my blocking. And with more size, I can become a better blocker and be able to stand up to Mikes (middle linebackers) and even defensive linemen.''

For McCoy, it also plays into his decision that the Panthers should have a pretty good team returning next season. Pitt loses just four seniors on offense and four on defense, but has underclassmen to step right in to every spot.

"We're going to be loaded next year,'' McCoy said. "When you talk about our young offense, some of these guys it's their first year playing with each other. The linemen, I'm running with some of them for the first time, so next year we're going to be a good team. I'm kind of anxious to see where they rank us next year at the beginning of the season.''

McCoy also has several goals he wants to accomplish that Pitt fell a bit short on this season like winning a Big East championship, going to a BCS bowl and maybe even getting the Heisman Trophy. Those certainly would be attainable.

"That would be cool,'' McCoy said. "When you're younger, growing up, you always think about those things. Playing video games, you think that maybe you could win those awards, but definitely a BCS game and Big East championship.

"We'll definitely be loaded, and a lot of reasons guys come back instead of going to the pros is the team that they'll have (in college) the next year. So, when I look at our team next year, we're going to be stacked.''

There's also something to be said for staying in school to avoid the rigors of adult life and all the pressure that comes with being a professional, even an athlete who virtually would be an instant millionaire.

"All I have to do now is go to school, practice and just hang out with my friends,'' McCoy said. "That's all. I love my guys here. Most of my friends are the guys on this team, and I just love to mess around. This is fun. That's the real world, once you get in the league, man. Get cut or not, that's the real world. So, right now, I'm just here having fun.''

So, even though it might not be his last game at Heinz Field, McCoy still wants to go out with a bang in front of his home fans. And he wants to do it for the upperclassmen: tailback LaRod Stephens-Howling, middle linebacker Scott McKillop, center C.J. Davis, wideout Derek Kinder, fullback Conredge Collins, outside linebacker Austin Ransom, nose tackle Rashaad Duncan, left guard Dominic Williams, offensive tackle Chase Clowser, punter Dave Brytus, place-kicker Conor Lee and safety Eric Thatcher.

"This is a big rivalry game, but we want to win it to help those guys go out on a good foot,'' McCoy said. "If we can win these last two games out, that would be excellent for them, to go out on a good foot. They worked so hard all season and all their years here.''

Pitt (7-3, 3-2) plays host to West Virginia (7-3, 4-1) in a key Big East clash for the 101st Backyard Brawl Friday at noon at Heinz Field.

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