When Anthony McCoy left Bullard High in 2006, his goals were to star on the national stage at USC, move on to the NFL and have lots of fun along the way.
McCoy's first goal is just starting to reach full realization, with the senior tight end becoming a preferred target in No. 4 USC's star-studded lineup.
His second goal appears within reach. Scouting services list McCoy as the second-best tight end and among the 50 top prospects for next year's NFL draft.
As for the fun? By living in Los Angeles, McCoy has had the chance to party in Hollywood and meet the likes of Spike Lee and Will Ferrell.
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"I knew this was the place for me," McCoy said Tuesday. "I've met a lot of new people, played in big games, been to a lot of cities, met famous people.
"People recognize you. It's cool. I couldn't have asked for more."
McCoy got to enjoy the spotlight last week in USC's nationally televised 34-27 win at Notre Dame. He had a career-best five catches for 153 yards, including four passes of 23 yards or more.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder showed just how valuable he has become on a 60-yard pass late in the third quarter. The play ended with McCoy dragging two Notre Dame defenders within a couple of yards of the end zone.
"I always play better when it feels like the walls are coming down against us," McCoy said.
Bullard coach Donnie Arax said he always projected greatness for McCoy.
"He was by far the most dominant guy I've ever seen, very determined to reach his goals," Arax said this week. "We played him at receiver and defensive end. And there was this one game against Clovis West, Anthony got three straight sacks. On the last sack, Anthony took out two running backs and an offensive tackle and still got to the quarterback."
But the path to collegiate stardom was not a direct one.
Just weeks before his first season at USC, McCoy was switched from receiver to tight end. McCoy didn't know what to make of it, especially since such moves tend to bury players down the depth chart.
"Receiver was my first love -- it's always hard to break up with your first love," McCoy said. "Then they're asking me to get into a three-point stance and block 290-pound defensive ends. I was nervous.
"I had my share of getting knocked down. I just learned to always pick myself back up."
To McCoy's credit, he played as a true freshman but a hamstring strain kept him out most of the season. He didn't make a catch.
He moved to backup tight end in 2007 and saw limited duty.
McCoy finally earned a starting role in 2008 and responded with 22 catches for 256 yards and a touchdown to earn All-Pac-10 honorable mention.
Through it all, McCoy kept learning the skills needed to block on passing and running plays. Running his routes and catching the ball always remained his strengths.
This season, with true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley directing USC's offense -- and with rookie quarterbacks typically favoring their tight ends -- McCoy finally has emerged as a regular option.
"He just had to wait his time," Arax said. "And since he's playing with and against the best, he gets to show how good he's really become.
"It's a sight to see."