Shady Saga Ends

Despite what has been reported, speculated and believed to be the truth from the outset, LeSean McCoy's mother, Daphne, said she never pushed him toward declaring for the NFL Draft, but the Pitt sophomore decided Wednesday to go in that direction anyway and forgo his junior season with the Panthers.

This year's version of the annual NFL Draft is April 25-26. Thursday is the final day that underclassmen like Pittsburgh tailback LeSean McCoy can declare for the draft.

"I just wanted him to go in the direction that his heart told him to go,'' Mrs. McCoy said. "I told him that he had to weigh everything out, because once he made that decision he can't go back. The biggest thing for him was that this seemed just like it was when he was a senior in high school.

"Everything was going great. He was on his way to breaking the state rushing record, and he got invited to that national all-star game (Army All-American) and the Big 33. And then he broke his ankle. Once that happened, everything changed, and he just felt like things started to go the same way this year.''

Some might believe that's a fatalistic approach to the situation. McCoy could get injured any day on or off the football field. And there are no guarantees that he would be successful if he stayed or if he turned pro.

"That's why he had to take every side, positive and negative, and that's why I think it took him so long to make his decision,'' Mrs. McCoy said. "But he's still young (20 years old), and no matter what people are saying about me, that I pushed him to the NFL. I didn't push him in any direction one way or another.

"I just told him to pray about it and told him that you've just got to go with what's in your heart. As a mom, I couldn't tell him what he needed to do. What if it didn't work out? I would have felt terrible. So, I never pushed him. It had to be his decision, so he prayed about it and decided to go to the NFL.

"And I'm very proud of his decision,'' Mrs. McCoy added. "He had to make it by a certain date, and that put some pressure on him. He wanted to go back to school. He loves his teammates and the coaches and being in college, and he was doing good in school (nearly a 3.2 the last semester).

"He was going to stay, but he was going back and forth on his decision. As a mom, you always want to protect your kid, and I just wanted the best for him. He was caught in the middle here. He wanted to please everybody, but ... he finally came to the best decision for himself. So, we'll see what happens.''

Pitt released the following statement from McCoy.

"When I signed with Pitt out of prep school, I didn't know what to expect,'' McCoy said. "I just knew in my heart that God had given me a second chance. As a result of a season-ending injury my senior year, I learned a humbling lesson. Nothing is promised to us, and it can all be taken away in a moment.

"Recently there has been a lot of speculation regarding my decision to either stay in school or enter the NFL Draft. I have frequently played both choices in my mind. I have considered my alternatives, and I have prayed. I have made my final decision and will forego my junior season at Pitt.

"One of my goals was to help my teammates and coaches bring Pitt back to its rightful place among the prominent teams in college football,'' McCoy added. "We made big strides in that journey, and I believe Coach Wannstedt, the coaching staff and my teammates will continue that upward climb next season and into the future.''

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt is attending the American Football Coaches Association national convention in Nashville and could not be reached for comment, but the school released statements from him.

"Four years ago I had the opportunity to watch a recruiting tape of a Harrisburg kid named LeSean McCoy,'' Wannstedt said. "His tremendous talent was evident from the very first viewing and I said to our staff 'We have to get him to Pitt.' Of course, LeSean did end up at Pitt, a decision that has been a wonderful benefit to him, our football program and university.

"When you have exceptionally gifted players, you realize the NFL can be a reality sooner rather than later. Certainly that's the case with LeSean, and we worked to make sure he had all the information needed to make the best decision about his pro prospects. (And) I think during the past two weeks, he finally had an opportunity to reflect on his opportunities.

"I know firsthand how enticing the NFL can be for young men, both financially and from the standpoint of realizing a lifelong dream of playing pro football,'' Wannstedt added. "I told LeSean he would always have our support, and we wish him only the very, very best.''

Among the running backs who also have entered the draft are Shonn Greene from Iowa, Donald Brown from Connecticut, Chris Wells from Ohio State, Knowshon Moreno from Georgia, P.J. Hill from Wisconsin and Glen Coffee from Alabama. In two seasons at Pitt, McCoy ran for 2,816 yards and 35 touchdowns. In 2008, he had 1,488 yards and 21 scores on 308 carries to finish 10th in the nation in rushing and tied for second in scoring. McCoy also was the No. 2 receiver for Pitt in 2008 with 32 catches for 305 yards.

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