- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2014

It was around two hours after the game on Sunday, and Colt McCoy’s cell phone battery had recharged to a point where he could place the one phone call he had wanted to make.

“Did you see it, dad?” the 28-year-old quarterback, no longer beholden to emotional restraint, blurted into his phone.

Thirteen hundred miles away in Graham, Texas, Brad McCoy had been watching. A recently converted Washington Redskins fan in the heart of Dallas Cowboys country, the elder McCoy had kept an eye on his son’s new team all season, paying closer attention during the previous four weeks.

As his son’s high school football coach, Brad had always watched Colt’s games with a critical eye, yet it was Brad’s ears piquing his interest on Sunday.

Moments before a commercial break, following the Tennessee Titans’ first drive of the second half, CBS commentator Kevin Harlan informed the home audience that McCoy, and not Kirk Cousins, would begin the next drive as the Redskins’ quarterback.

McCoy finished the game having completed 11 of 12 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, helping the Redskins claim a 19-17, come-from-behind victory over Tennessee.

SEE ALSO: Alfred Morris takes blame for Redskins’ rushing woes

And if Robert Griffin III is unable to play Monday in the Redskins’ game against the Cowboys — a game-time decision, coach Jay Gruden maintained Thursday — McCoy will be tabbed to make his first start since December 2011, when he played for the Cleveland Browns.

“That’s all he hoped for,” Brad McCoy said. “That’s all anybody can hope for. It’s a chance, it’s an opportunity, and be ready when you get that opportunity. We were excited for him that he did get it — and that he was ready.”

Brad McCoy had been preparing his son for such opportunities for years, dating back to their time together at Jim Ned High School in Tuscola, Texas. There, Colt became the all-time leading passer in Class 2A history, graduating in 2005 after having completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 9,344 yards and 116 touchdowns.

A town of 742 people, according to the 2010 census, Tuscola was heavily invested in the high school football team. That support spurred McCoy, who relished being the underdog in an overlooked league.

“If you could see the place where he went to high school, the stands are very small,” said Jordan Shipley, a college teammate of Colt’s whose father, Bob, was Brad’s college teammate. “It’s a West Texas town, one of those one-school towns where the whole town packs up on Friday nights and follows you around to wherever you’re at.”

A standout high school career led McCoy to Texas, where he redshirted for the Longhorns’ national championship season in 2005 before settling in as the starter for four years. He amassed a 45-8 record, left with bushels of school records and earned a dozen major awards, finishing as the runner-up to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford in the Heisman Trophy award balloting after his junior season.

SEE ALSO: Colt McCoy remains in line to start at QB for Redskins vs. Cowboys

When he was drafted by the Browns in the third round in 2010, he figured he’d be able to settle in as the team’s starting quarterback and lead a prolonged, successful professional existence. That wasn’t the case; a mediocre first season, a second season without success and an organizational overhaul before the third season landed McCoy on the bench.

“I think just the way he’s always handled things says a lot about his character,” said Redskins left guard Shawn Lauvao, who played with McCoy in Cleveland. “I would say, that was just a tough situation, because when we were there, man, we had no weapons.”

Traded to San Francisco prior to last season, McCoy played 22 snaps over four games for the 49ers, all in garbage time. A free agent in March, it took him a little over three weeks to land in Washington, where he was drawn to the possibility of playing for new Redskins coach Jay Gruden.

As the third-string quarterback, the only guarantee of playing time came if one of the other two were injured. Until Wednesday, McCoy had not taken a practice snap with the 10 other starters.

“I think I’ve learned from a lot of my past experiences, and I’ve watched a lot of good quarterbacks play,” McCoy said. “Hopefully by doing that, you naturally gain a little bit of confidence even though you’re standing on the sidelines.”

For years, Brad McCoy told his son that football would not be easy. He didn’t allow Colt to play football until seventh grade, when he could trust that his son would enjoy the sport and receive proper coaching. Though the two enjoy talking the ins and outs of the sport, Brad has never offered criticism without being asked.

And so Sunday evening, after Colt called up “Dad” in his iPhone, pressed it to his ear and let his voice carry deep into north central Texas, his father replied in the only way he knew how.

“Of course I did,” Brad McCoy said.

• Zac Boyer can be reached at zboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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