Saturday, July 10, 2010
By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

Pretty much since his arrival as Rams head coach before last season, Steve Spagnuolo has constantly made it a point to say that one thing he’s looking for on his roster is versatility.

So it’s no surprise that when the Rams went searching for diamonds in the rough on the rookie free agent market, Jamie McCoy landed in St. Louis.

Officially listed as a running back/fullback on the Rams roster, McCoy’s talents go well beyond carrying the ball or catching it out of the backfield. At Texas A&M, he played quarterback, wide receiver and tight end and he has some experience on special teams as well.

In other words, McCoy is essentially a Swiss Army Knife of football skills.

“I will go out there and do whatever the coach needs me to do whether it’s running the ball, catching it, getting out wide,” McCoy said. ‘Whatever it might be, I’m just someone that can do it all and loves playing the game.”

Since he signed with the Rams as an undrafted rookie free agent on April 26, McCoy’s skill set has already expanded.

McCoy had never played fullback or running back in college though he had lined up at every other skill position.

But the Rams envisioned him as a pass catching fullback based on his tight end and receiver skills with hopes they could develop his ability to block and run the ball.

“It’s my first time at running back so that’s new,” McCoy said. “Seeing everyone out there and coming at you from everywhere, it’s something new every day. I mess up but the coaches have been there to help me and correct me.”

McCoy’s versatility developed over his time with the Aggies after he entered college as a standout option quarterback at Midland Lee High in Texas.

In his freshman season, McCoy played three games at quarterback for the Aggies. He worked at receiver in his sophomore season before converting to tight end in his junior season.

Once there, McCoy spent some time in the backfield as more of an H-back but he also split wide occasionally. In his first year at the position, McCoy grabbed 43 balls for 500 yards and five touchdowns.

In his senior year, McCoy was good enough to land a second-team all conference spot for his 35 catches for 367 yards and two touchdowns.

At each position, McCoy says he was able to learn and retain something different. Of course, playing quarterback is the ultimate in learning others’ responsibilities.

“In college at quarterback you have to know what everybody is doing out there and you have to know what the defense is doing with their coverages and blitzes and stuff like that,” McCoy said. “For me to bring that out here, it helps me to learn the plays, knowing what everybody’s responsibilities are and what me running an under route opening it up for a receiver downfield. It helps with concepts and put it all together.”

In making his transition to the NFL and a different spot in the backfield, McCoy says he is taking bits and pieces of what he’s learned at each position and melding it together to make things smoother.

“For me, it’s just been every position the stuff goes hand in hand,” McCoy said. “Every position I have been able to pick something up. At running back, we have to go and split out and stuff like that so it helps me having done receiver so I take something from everything and put it all together.”

Although McCoy says he misses having the opportunity to throw the ball, he also knows that’s something he has in his back pocket if a team ever wants to run a trick play or misdirection.

But one thing he knows will need work at the NFL level is his blocking. In the organized team activities, the Rams never had full pads on so McCoy didn’t get much chance to fully refine his skills in that regard.

And, at 6’3, 242 pounds, McCoy seems to have the size to get the job done, he just needs some polish.

“My blocking is decent,” McCoy said. “It’s just a matter of putting your nose in there and bearing down and protecting whatever they give to you. I haven’t got to block on the NFL level yet so we’ll see how that goes. There’s a lot more blitzes than you’ll see in college. You have to know your responsibilities and know what routes you have if they don’t blitz. It’s just bearing down and sticking your nose in there like I said.”

When McCoy departed for the hiatus between the end of the offseason program and training camp, he declared it his mission to get bigger and stronger before his anticipated return to St. Louis.

“My main thing is going to be to get stronger so that I can take on hits,” McCoy said. “This is my first time doing that at running back. I have to get tough enough to endure all the hits that come with playing there. Also, I would say endurance, stamina, just being in shape, being able to go down field and come back and do it again.”

For a guy used to doing a little bit of everything, the next step is making sure he can do those things better than ever before to give himself a chance to land a roster spot in September.

“It’s been a great experience,” McCoy said. “I learn something new every day. It’s a challenge, it’s a grind and I am just working to get better. Everything picks up a little bit. You are expected to know so much more and do so much more. Your responsibility level just picks up. It’s more than a step faster; the playbook is a few inches thicker. It’s more responsibility. It’s enough to handle but it’s work.