Ricky Watters knows a thing or two about running backs. And when he heard about LeSean McCoy, a can't miss prospect at his alma mater of Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg, PA, his ears perked up.
"LeSean has kind of renewed my interest in the game," said Watters, who donned an Eagles uniform from 1995 to 1997. "Everyone was talking about him. My cousins were saying, 'You have to check him out. You have to watch him, he is showing some of the moves that you had.' They know that always gets me excited because even more than teams, I am more about the players."
A second-team All-America selection in 2008, McCoy amassed 3,365 total yards from scrimmage and 36 total touchdowns in his two-year career at the University of Pittsburgh. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry in each of his two seasons, becoming just the third player in school history to achieve multiple 1,000-yard rushing campaigns.
|RB LeSean McCoy
"I was trying my best to see every game he played at Pitt," said Watters, who currently makes his home in Orlando, Florida. "It's been great watching him play."
The connection between McCoy and Watters extends beyond the lines of the football field. Since they first met at the Harrisburg East Mall about a year ago, the two have become good friends. And Watters says he was glad to see his friend land a job with the Eagles, the adopted hometown team of these Harrisburg natives.
"I think he has a set of skills that can definitely help the team," said Watters. "It all depends on how he matures and how fast he matures because it is a big leap. It's definitely a big leap; there is a lot to learn. But if anyone can do it I think he can."
In McCoy, the Eagles believe they have an almost 21-year-old all-purpose back in the Brian Westbrook mold - a shifty, elusive running back with a knack for finding the end zone.
Having played in a West Coast system himself, Watters knows all about the responsibilities of the running back in this offense. During an 11-year career, which included three seasons in Philadelphia sandwiched between a Super Bowl stint with the 49ers and his final years in Seattle, Watters was selected to the Pro Bowl five times and rushed for over 10,000 yards in his career. He is the only player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards for three teams.
That said, Watters believes McCoy's skills will translate well to the next level.
"He can do everything out there," Watters said. "He can run routes, he can catch, he can obviously run the ball and he can block, and that's what I like in a back and that's why I enjoy watching him play."
McCoy entered his senior season at Bishop McDevitt on pace to break the state rushing record and shatter some of Watters' records in the process, but he suffered a compound fracture of his right ankle in the season's fourth game. He still finished his high school career as the ninth-leading rusher in Pennsylvania history with 6,640 yards and 75 touchdowns.
The injury did not keep McCoy down as he resurfaced as a playmaker in the Pittsburgh backfield. In fact, McCoy set freshman records for points (90) and rushing touchdowns (14), two marks that had been held by Heisman Tropy winner and NFL star Tony Dorsett. McCoy rushed for 1,488 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2008 and 2,816 yards and 35 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons. Dorsett, meanwhile, ran for 2,690 yards in his first two seasons at Pittsburgh.
No doubt there will be growing pains before the 5-foot-10, 198-pound McCoy can unleash his full potential. Until that time - and even after - Watters will be there to offer advice when called upon.
"I'm just going to see how it goes. If he asks me or if he needs something from me then you know I'll go into the proactive role. But until then I just want to stay out of his way, let him enjoy this time," Watters said. "I feel like this is his time so I want him to have some fun and do it his way.
"I think he will be ready and he will focus. I think he'll do a good job. Maybe he can finish what I started and go in and get that championship."