Austin, Texas — Colt McCoy arrived on the Texas campus in 2005 as a skinny, small-town country kid.
He weighed about 180 pounds and looked even smaller than that. Slender shoulders, skinny arms and legs and a wide-eyed expression made some teammates wonder whether he could play.
"I'm a city guy from Houston," senior running back Chris Ogbannaya said. "Colt comes up to me and the first thing he says is, 'Hi, I'm Colt McCoy.' I am just like, 'Where are you from?' He had a West Texas accent."
Nobody questions whether McCoy can play anymore. The confident kid is now in his third season as the Longhorns' starter. Hard work in the weight room turned him into a solid 6-foot-3, 215-pound athlete with a strong arm and speed to outrun defenders.
With 16 touchdown passes and a team-high 317 yards rushing, McCoy is playing so well that even though he's got plenty of experience he's still been the biggest surprise on the Texas offense. Another big game - and a victory - Saturday against No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0) could make him a top contender for the Heisman Trophy.
"I think everybody understands who their bellcow is, who their leader is, and they get on his back," Sooners defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.
Many Texas fans figured McCoy was just an insurance policy when the Longhorns missed signing to recruit Ryan Perrilloux in 2005.
"If you saw where I played high school, you'd know why I wasn't a (big) recruit," said McCoy, who played at Class 2A Tuscola Jim Ned High School, just up the road from Buffalo Gap.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown saw past the small town to see a big-time player.
Size and strength were a problem early in his career when he was injured on a hard hit to the shoulder as a freshman. A pinched nerve in his neck lingered for weeks and might have cost Texas a loss to Texas A&M and a chance to defend its Big 12 title.
Today, McCoy runs with power and confidence.
While Texas has yet to find a No. 1 tailback, McCoy is averaging a nifty 7.0 yards per carry, most of it coming on designed runs.
"When I can use my feet, I'm going to use them, and just like coach Brown tells me everyday, 'When you can go make a first down, go make it.'" McCoy said.