Sorry, defensive coordinators. No chance Titus McCoy will show up for the start of his senior high school football season content and happy after last year’s state championship.
McCoy, a 5-11, 190-pound Center Grove running back, committed to Indiana State on Sunday night. The timing might seem odd. McCoy, considered a top contender for IndyStar Indiana Mr. Football, could have waited and weighed his options after his senior season.
There were other schools interested, some with a higher profile than Indiana State, a Football Championship Subdivision program coming off a 5-6 season. Ball State and Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference were recruiting McCoy, as was traditional FCS power Eastern Kentucky and Southern Illinois.
But none of those schools offered him a scholarship. McCoy attended camps at Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan this summer but left with no indication that an offer might be coming. So, instead of waiting, McCoy committed to a program that has made him a top priority since April.
“I really wanted to commit before the season started,” he said. “Recruiting-wise, things didn’t really go my way this summer. That was fine. Indiana State had always believed in me and told me I was their No. 1 guy.”
Credit Indiana State coach Mike Sanford with a recruiting coup. McCoy has been a key player for the Trojans since his freshman year, a rarity in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference. He rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a sophomore, then put together a monster junior season with 1,912 yards and 28 touchdowns as Center Grove won Class 6A with a 14-0 record.
McCoy has shined in big games against the state’s best programs, creating yards when there appears to be nothing but defenders. His 36-carry, 198-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 35-34 double-overtime win over Avon in last year’s semistate was unforgettable.
McCoy’s individual success — and Center Grove’s as a team — didn’t necessarily translate to brightening his recruiting picture. McCoy felt he performed well at the various camps this summer but left without offers.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised,” he said. “I was more determined than anything. I’m the type of kid that doesn’t want anything handed to me. I was a bit irritated with the camp season. It was kind of a turnoff, to be honest. I felt like I did my best, though.”
McCoy still could have waited it out if he didn’t feel a strong connection with Indiana State.
“Everyone preaches brotherhood and family, but I really felt that from the beginning at Indiana State,” he said. “They hold each other accountable, which is what coach (Eric) Moore does here at Center Grove.”
Football recruiting can be a tricky business. It’s not unusual for players to pick up more offers after they’ve committed than before. I asked McCoy what he would do if an FBS program entered the picture before signing day in February.
“I feel that Indiana State believes in me the most,” he said. “For some of the schools that come in late, that’d be tough (to break a commitment). Indiana State has showed me a lot of love.”
McCoy’s camp experience has only added to his motivation for his senior season.
“We’re hungry,” he said. “I know we came off a state championship last year but we did it for the seniors. Now it’s our turn to get a ring.”
• Added threat: Center Grove should have one of the best backfields in the state. Trevor Hohlt (351 rushing yards in an injury-shortened 2015 season) returns from a knee injury as a senior and Russ Yeast, also a senior, has transferred in from Fremont (Ross), Ohio. Yeast’s father, Craig Yeast, was hired as the offensive coordinator at Franklin College.
Russ Yeast, a former Kentucky commit, figures to see time at running back and receiver. Yeast recently cut his recruiting list to Auburn, Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Northwestern and Ole Miss but was offered by Alabama on Saturday.
How much will Yeast help the Trojans?
“Let’s just say he got that Alabama offer for a reason,” McCoy said.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649. Follow him on Twitter: @KyleNeddenriep.