AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown spent months searching for leadership.
That, the Texas coach said, was his priority in naming a quarterback during the preseason.
It might have taken Brown about six quarters longer than he wanted, but he might have finally found that leader hiding in plain sight.
Case McCoy, the unassuming legacy, assumed the role of a leader for Texas in the No. 24 Longhorns' 17-16 win over BYU on Saturday night. Whether it was a temporary move remains to be seen. What it was, at least for the two-plus quarters McCoy played against BYU, was impactful.
"He immediately came into the huddle and was pumping us up and telling us to trust him, and that he was going to lead us down and deliver a victory," wide receiver Jaxon Shipley said. "I think there was just a lot of energy that he brought in. As you can tell, he played a great game. He's a great leader for us."
The thing is, McCoy has been that leader. It's just that everyone, except for those closest to him, had yet to notice it.
"Being a leader is tough if you aren't in a role where leadership is asked of you," said Brad McCoy, Case's father. "When you are a backup, you can only lead so much."
What McCoy has to do is back up what he started against BYU. The sophomore was 7-of-8 for 57 yards. He led two crucial touchdown drives, converted a big third-and-9, kept his poise on a fourth-and-5 conversion and didn't turn over the ball.
Now, most assuredly, McCoy will be asked to do more of the same against UCLA. Although the coaching staff would not say who the starter will be against the Bruins, McCoy as the starter with David Ash and his package of plays seems to be the logical conclusion.
If that is the case, McCoy is prepared. Really, he was prepared two weeks ago to be the starter. His older brother Colt made sure of that.
Because of the NFL lockout, Case and Colt, the Cleveland Browns quarterback, were able to spend more time together during the summer.
"They lifted together, ran and threw together, but maybe more important than that, they just talked football," Brad McCoy said. "Even though [co-offensive coordinator Bryan] Harsin's system is a different offense than what Colt went through with Greg Davis, there are a lot of things about playing quarterback in college that you have to learn and be really strong at. Colt was able to mentor Case on the things that you really have to do well and told him about some things that aren't as important and not to worry about as much."
One of the biggest things Case was told not to worry about was being Colt. Or being in the shadow of his older brother.
"Case is Case," Brad McCoy said. "He's not Colt; he's not trying to be Colt. He wants to play based on what he can do and not what people think he will be because he is Colt's brother. He is a great athlete and a great leader. He has a lot of tangibles that people like."
People saw that tangible evidence for the first time Saturday night. Whether people see more is up to Case and the coaching staff.
But Case, for one, is more than ready to have another go.
"It was fun," he said. "Hopefully it will be fun the rest of the time."
Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation.com.
William Wilkerson covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation.com.
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